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

As the BC CDC reports on May 5 declining pandemic numbers and only one case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert, the vehicles parked outside the local testing center also decrease. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert COVID-19 numbers down again

Second outbreak at Acropolis declared over

Northern Health Authority is requesting local residents to refrain from attending the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital unless necessary, as some services have been affected by a fire on May 5. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Fire at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital creates a reduction in services

Northern Health is asking residents to not attend hospital unless necessary

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Prince Rupert Firefighters Dylan Sidoni, Jon Bonneschranz and Derek Kormendi were commended in April with receiving the department’s first life-saving award, after they rescued a male victim from a burning building on Oct. 5, 2020. Tim Dopko, not present, was awarded Firefighter of the Year. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Firefighters receive awards

New awards presented commending outstanding efforts for life-saving and firefighter of the year

Shawn Pettitt retired as Port Edward Fire Cheif and was honoured by the crew with the presentation of a specially engraved fire axe on April 20. (Photo: Supplied)
30-years of dedication to fire department

Retired Port Edward fire chief’s service is honoured by department

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

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,000 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Members of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. (File photo)
B.C.-wide #DayOfMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15

‘Our colleagues across the province have figured out new ways to perform and connect,’ VSO boss says

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Federal police unit takes over probe of B.C. regional district’s spending

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Interior Health locks out Kelowna martial arts gym following COVID violations

Actions were taken after all other steps to gain compliance were exhausted, says health authority

Most Read