Task Force on Public Health and the U.S.-Canadian Border

November 19, 2020

The Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., announced on November 19 the creation of a task force to study the problem of how and when to lift the joint restrictions imposed by the United States and Canada that limit cross border travel to essential transit. These restrictions took effect in March of 2020 in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been renewed for 30 days at a time since.


two signs under trees at border

Split in road at USA and Canada border By FlagtailsPhotography, Adobe Stock

Members of the Wilson Task Force on Public Health and the U.S.-Canadian Border reflect the political, economic, and regional diversity of the 5,525-mile-long border between the two countries.

  • The Hon. Jean Charest is a former premier of Québec and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada who is currently a partner at the law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
  • The Hon. Christine Gregoire is a Democrat and former governor of the State of Washington who is the CEO for Challenge Seattle and co-chair of the steering committee that guides the Cascadia Innovation Corridor initiative.
  • The Hon. Anne McLellan is a former deputy prime minister of Canada, was appointed by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin as Canada’s first-ever minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and is currently a senior advisor at the law firm Bennett Jones LLP.
  • The Hon. Rick Snyder is a Republican and former governor of the State of Michigan, who entered politics after a successful career as a technology chief executive and venture capitalist, is currently working with startups at his new firm RPAction LLC.

The members of the Task Force will meet virtually with various public-private sector stakeholders to understand the challenges of health screening and border security, as well as the impact of the border restrictions on communities, public health, and economic recovery. The Task Force will deliver its recommendations in March of 2021.

The Canada Institute at the Wilson Center will staff the Task Force and publish its final report. Dr. Christopher Sands, director of the Canada Institute, has published extensively on U.S.-Canada border issues. At the launch of the Task Force, Sands said:

The problem of how to reopen the U.S.-Canadian border is both technical and political. Technically, how can health screening be incorporated into the existing inspections conducted at the land, air, and maritime borders without undue delays to efficient supply chains and the traveling public? And politically, how can the United States and Canada restore public confidence in the shared border so that they will resume cross border activities and be reassured that pandemic risks are being managed cooperatively and safely by both countries?

From Wilson Center media release, November 19, 2020; for more information, contact Mariana Sanchez.

You might also be interested in