Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)

CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

The union representing border services officers is calling on provincial health authorities to add the officers – including those who continue to process truck drivers at the Pacific Highway and Aldergrove borders – to the list of frontline workers who are being given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Border Services Officers operate in environments where they are likely to come into contact with COVID-19 and should be prioritized alongside frontline workers,” Richard Savage, Customs and Immigration Union national vice-president, said in a news release.

“At YVR, one of the few international airports still open in Canada, flights from around the world are still arriving every day. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control over 120 international flights arriving at YVR from Delhi, Mexico City, and other hotspots have had a confirmed COVID case on board since January 1, 2021.”

B.C. health officials on March 18 announced that frontline workers, including police, firefighters, child-care, grocery store, postal and K-12 education staff would start getting the vaccine this month.

Groups to raise concerns in the weeks since about being left off the list also include workers who provide direct support for people with developmental disabilities.

READ MORE: B.C. emergency, grocery, school staff get COVID-19 vaccine starting April

READ MORE: Support workers for those with disabilities left behind in B.C. vaccine-rollout ‘oversight’

But while the support workers learned late last week that they had been bumped up in priority, the BSOs have yet to receive similar news.

Savage told Peace Arch News Wednesday (April 14) that there have been COVID-19 cases at both South Surrey ports – Douglas and Pacific Highway – as well as in Aldergrove, and in all cases (he didn’t have exact data but estimated the number of positives at at least 10 altogether), they have resulted in others having to self-isolate for two weeks.

Savage emphasized that the union is not asking for vaccine priority over others, but is “requesting that we be added to the priority vaccination plan for the Astra Zeneca vaccine that is currently on hold as are other law enforcement agencies or people who are at higher risk of exposure.”

He said the union has reached out through contacts with local MLAs, including one in Premier John Horgan’s office, with its concerns, but without success. While nationally, the union has succeeded in having its members added to the phase two priority list coming from the National Advisory Committee of Vaccinations, Savage said “those are only recommendations that the province can use or not.”

In the union’s news release, issued earlier Wednesday, Savage noted that Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the only airport in Canada that is open to international travellers where border services officers are not prioritized for vaccination, and called on B.C. to follow the lead of other provinces and address the issue.

“Border Services workers and officers have been playing a crucial role in keeping Canadians safe, all the while exposed to significant on the job risks. They must be adequately protected to continue this important work. Frontline border personnel must not be left behind.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Border Services OfficerCoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Strathcona Gardens is one of many recreation opportunities that could be investigated during a feasibility study. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona rural and municipal directors disagree on recreation study

Rural directors say study would not affect them, don’t want to pay for it

Red dresses hang on the Longhouse at Campbell River’s Robert Ostler Park on May 5, which is designated as Red Dress Day to commemorate murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. A gathering at the Longhouse was held to mark the day and the MMWIG. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Campbell River gathering commemorates murdered and missing women and girls

Red Dress Day marked by ceremony at Robert Ostler Park

City of Campbell River crews work to repair a four-inch water main near Carihi Secondary School. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Main break leaves Campbell River neighbourhood without water

Students sent home early from Carihi Secondary, businesses closed

The arena at Strathcona Gardens could be in the running for the 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition. File photo – Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona Gardens eyes 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition

Winner gets to host a pre-season NHL game and $250,000 to help fix their arena

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read