The Canadian government is going to drop the costly polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 test for Canadians returning to Canada from trips lasting less than 72 hours, sources say.
Canadians and permanent residents will still have to get an antigen test when coming back from travel to the United States and other countries.
A PCR test will still be required for fully vaccinated Americans or other travellers coming to Canada, according to the sources, as well as for Canadians who have been outside the country longer than 72 hours. The Globe is not identifying the sources, who were not authorized to speak on the matter.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who arrived in Washington for rounds of talks with Congressional leaders, and trilateral talks with President Joe Biden and his Mexico counterpart, is expected to make the announcement during his visit.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty hailed news of the move Wednesday.
“Getting rid of unnecessary and outdated travel rules will help Canada’s businesses get back to work – and compete,” he said in a statement. The chamber has also been urging Ottawa to rescind the pre departure PCR tests in favour of rapid antigen tests.
U.S. congressional leaders have urged the Prime Minister to rescind Canada’s requirement that anyone travelling from the U.S. into Canada first submit to a costly polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 test. The U.S. allows air travellers to use less-expensive rapid antigen tests, and it does not require vaccinated foreign visitors to present test results at its land borders. On Friday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and three other Senators – Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republicans Susan Collins and Mike Crapo – wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly urging Canada to do away with the PCR test requirement.
“We heard from constituents that the testing protocols required by the Canadian government to enter the country will make it very costly for individuals to travel between our two nations,” they wrote.
The Prime Minister told reporters Monday that he intends to use his one-on-one time with Mr. Biden in the Oval Office to stress the economic vitality of continental trade and the importance of integrated supply chains, especially because the President seems intent on forging ahead with a “Buy American” strategy for the auto sector and infrastructure projects.
Rising protectionism has been of great concern to Canada and Mexico, particularly Buy America provisions for infrastructure projects and tax credits for electric vehicles assembled in the U.S.
In remarks delivered at the Wilson Centre in Washington on Wednesday, Mr Trudeau said one of the key issues he intends to raise with Mr. Biden is how reliable Canada is to American industry.
“It is in the United States interests. The jobs that are created and maintained because of integrated supply chains across our borders in everything from autos to natural resources and energy,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he will stress to the President that Canada has huge reserves of critical minerals necessary for electric cars and iPhones and new technology.
Without mentioning China, which has gained control of large critical mineral supplies, Mr. Trudeau said Canada is a far more reliable customer.
The Canadian government has been holding up critical minerals as a bargaining tool to pressure the Biden administration to exempt Canada from Buy America.
Later Wednesday, the Prime Minister will meet with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and other key members of the House of Representatives.
The Prime Minister will then meet with Mr. Schumer, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other key members of the Senate.
On Thursday, he has a bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The three leaders will then meet together for a North American leaders summit, known as the Three Amigos.
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