Breaking: Canada considers tightening border with US to curb coronavirus spread

The Ambassador Bridge linking the United States and Canada.

Canada is considering tightening its border with the United States to curb the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview Friday.

“We’re in the midst of coordinating with the Americans, obviously, on our borders, on our actions. We’ll continue to evaluate what we can do and how we can keep Canadians in security and we won’t close the door on any idea,” Trudeau said in an interview with Radio-Canada.

Trudeau is in self-isolation with his wife, who recently tested positive for COVID-19. He did not offer details about what kind of additional restrictions Canada is considering on its 5,500-mile border with the U.S. or any implications for the movement of goods.

Coronavirus has been relatively contained in Canada, with 153 confirmed cases. But the spread is increasing along with cancellations of major events and restrictions of public gatherings. 

Any border restrictions that impact the movement of goods would hit Canadian trucking companies and their drivers the hardest, since they handle the majority of cross-border U.S.-Canada freight. 

“I’d be interested in knowing what tightening the border entails. But the supply chain must remain intact,” Shawn Girard, CEO of Quebec-based cross-border carrier Energy Transportation Group, told FreightWaves.   

Trucks moved the bulk of the C$750 billion (US$560 billion) in merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada in 2019. 

The Canadian government has moved cautiously in imposing travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to take any significant steps to limit the flow of goods.

Freight volumes have pushed upward in Canada since the beginning of March, according to the Outbound Tender Volume Index for Canada on FreightWaves’ SONAR platform.

While freight volumes continue to be strong in Canada, according to FreightWaves’ SONAR platform, some segments of the transportation and logistics industry are being impacted.

“It’s terrible, but we’re going to keep going as long as we can,” David Clements, CEO of Toronto-based Starline, told FreightWaves. Starline operates a fleet of tractors and 150 trailers for the special events and the TV and film production industry.

Event cancellations are taking a mounting toll, Clements said, while the film and TV productions remain stable, he said. “We’re being careful with what we do from a safety standpoint.”