Peace Arch Crossing on a busy Saturday morning. The continued U.S. government shutdown will affect Canadians in a number of ways, border traffic being among those. (Drive BC file)

Government shutdown will soon slow borders, affect food quality

Canada needs to ratify NAFTA ahead of election, says UVic political scientist

Waits at airports and border crossings are the tip of the iceberg and will be made worse the longer the shutdown of the U.S. government lasts.

Will Greaves, assistant professor in political science at the University of Victoria, has a focus on international relations. He said that while the impacts on Canadians are mostly indirect so far, there’ll soon be more tangible effects.

The continued U.S. government shutdown will affect Canadians in a number of ways, border traffic being among those.

The Canada Border Service Agency already told its Canadian Nexus applicants this week they’ll have to reschedule appointments with U.S. Customs and Border Protection for after the shutdown has ended.

RELATED: Shutdown becomes longest federal closure in U.S. history

The longer the shutdown continues, the more services which affect the border will be slower, such as customs agents and even air traffic controllers, Greaves said. Those groups of workers, customs agents and border guards, are not being paid but are still required to work. Eventually, history shows they’ll start taking work action of various sorts, whether it’s individuals calling in sick, or co-ordinated work stoppages.

“Whether it’s people or goods, trying to get things across the border will take longer,” Greaves said. “We’ll likely see slowdowns at ports of entry, borders, airports, as there are fewer staff on the American sides.”

Food safety is another concern.

RELATED: U.S. federal workers get $0 pay stubs as shutdown drags on

The U.S.A. Food and Drug Administration already had a tough fall, even with its “non-essential workers” on the job, with food recalls.

“Canada imports $25 billion of agriculture from the U.S.A. a year and we already had food recalls this fall when it was running, and this will lead to fewer food inspections and less safety food protocol in place,” Greaves said.

In the bigger picture, the shutdown will start to affect the coming Canadian election by way of U.S.-Canada relations.

“The negotiation of NAFTA is not yet ratified by U.S. Congress, and in the Canadian election year, [the government] needs to normalize Canadian trade relations,” Greaves said. “The longer this takes the more contentious the politics around free trade and NAFTA.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


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