OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will reach out to the United States to discuss the effect of President Donald Trump’s “unilateral” decision to restrict travel from Europe and other issues tied to the new coronavirus outbreak, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from Europe on Wednesday after the World Health Organisation described the contagion as a pandemic.
In a televised interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was asked whether the flight restrictions would create a border problem since Europeans could fly to Canada and drive to the United States.
“It is very important for us to have a good conversation about what to do with our shared border,” Freeland responded. “Our single-largest border is, of course, our land border with the United States, and there are 400,000 people who cross that border every day.”
Freeland said the flight curbs were a “unilateral” decision by the Trump administration done “without consultation,” and she and other ministers would reach out to their U.S. counterparts to discuss efforts to counter the spread of the virus.
Canada would make its own decisions about flights that would be based on “the best scientific advice” from health authorities, Freeland said.
Canada has just over 100 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, more than double the number from a week ago.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government committed C$1 billion ($723 million) on Wednesday towards bolstering the healthcare system and limiting the impact of the virus.
On Thursday, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that a child in Calgary, Alberta, had contracted the virus, the country’s first case of a minor contracting the disease.
The federal government will meet with the leaders of the provincial governments and indigenous groups on Thursday and Friday. The focus of their talks is expected to be on how to coordinate to battle the virus and its effects.
The Ontario government has set aside C$100 million in “contingency funding” as part of the province’s 2020 budget, due March 25, Premier Doug Ford told reporters on Thursday.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Bernadette Baum