WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles E. Schumer met Thursday with Canada's ambassador to the United States and its new consul general to urge them to immediately boost border patrol staffing to prevent long wait times at the Peace Bridge and other border crossings.
"Canada, our good partner, cannot let the delays that happened this past summer at the border occur again during the busy holiday travel season this year; they need to staff up for the busy seasons for the good of both our nations,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “We need to alleviate these avoidable and costly delays at these vital border crossings and there is simple and common-sense way to accomplish that: proper staffing levels. Both the consul general and the ambassador were receptive to my request.”
More than two-thirds of the Canada-bound traffic on the Peace Bridge had to wait at least 20 minutes to clear customs on weekends last summer, and on occasion the waits stretched much longer.
The Buffalo News reported in October that Canadian budget cuts, a new policy that Canadian border agents be armed, union rules and changing traffic patterns all played a part in the delays.
“It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to keep our crossings open, safe and moving quickly," Schumer said. "Long delays discourage travelers on both sides of the border, which means our shared economies suffer significant loss in tourism and cross-border commerce dollars."
Schumer has been pressing Canadian officials to boost border staffing for months, and his meeting Thursday with Ambassador David McNaughton and Consul General Phyllis Jaffe was just the latest part of his effort.
Last month, he called the Canadian minister of public safety, Ralph Goodale, to urge him to boost border staffing and to make sure that all customs booths are open at peak times. Earlier, Schumer pressed the issue in a letter to Linda Lizotte-MacPherson, president of the Canada Border Services Agency