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

Letters to the Editor.
Southern tribute brings back abundant memories

Growing up a great time with a friend lost far too soon

Paul Beltgens will never advocate for the export of raw logs under any circumstances. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Innovative approach keeps forest company running strong

Owner Beltgens embraces changing times, utilizes high standards in production

Pudge Bawa received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd Black Tie Awards on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Submitted)
Black Tie winners announced during virtual awards event

Recipients gave speeches by phone while being live-streamed on YouTube

A selection of frozen foods are being offered from the Playbill Dining Room. (Photo submitted)
Freezer foods available to support the theatre

Select items available for pick-up at the gallery gift shop

The Cowichan Valley Regional District introduces a new app to contact residents during emergencies. (CVRD photo)
New emergency alert and notification system launched for Cowichan region

Cowichan Alert a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

Most Read