With just one week to go until the current Canada-U.S. border closure agreement expires, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says border discussions with the U.S. are "ongoing," adding that he expects to have more to say later in the week.
This comes as Trudeau spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday morning, though the border was not among the range of topics the prime minister said the two world leaders discussed — despite the looming July 21 deadline.
"Every month we have been able to extend the border closures to all but essential goods and services and those discussions are ongoing with the United States right now as we are a week from the next deadline for closures," Trudeau said.
"We're going to continue to work hard to keep Canadians safe and to keep our economies flowing, we will have more to say later this week I'm sure."
Canada has been under renewed pressure to reopen the shared border, despite surging COVID-19 case numbers in the United States. At the end of June, the U.S. became home to the world’s highest number of reported infections: more than 2.2 million. That number has since soared to more than 3.3 million, according to the New York Times, with more than 134,000 deaths.
Despite these figures, 29 bipartisan members of U.S. Congress penned an open letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair calling on the Canadian government to plan a phased reopening of the Canada-U.S. border and to consider easing existing measures.
"We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions," read the letter, which was published on Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins' website on July 3.
The members of Congress, who represent the northern states along the border, also implored the Canadian government to consider easing restrictions on family members and property owners impeded by the restrictions.
The Canadian government pushed back on the request, with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's office telling CTVNews in a statement that the health and safety of Canadians is "absolutely priority."
"Decisions about Canada's border are made by Canadians, for Canadians," Freeland's spokesperson Katherine Cuplinskas said in the statement on Friday.
The suggestion was also unpopular with non-politician Canadians, who took to social media to express their staunch opposition.