April 6, 2020
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Delivered via email: Francois-Philippe.Champagne@international.gc.ca
Re: Repatriation of Canadians Stranded Abroad
Dear Minister Champagne,
I write today, lending my voice to that of my parliamentary colleagues, expressing the frustration felt by many of our constituents who have been left stranded abroad due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Thankfully, a number of Canadian families have been safely returned, for which we extend our gratitude to the efforts of the public servants at Global Affairs Canada. However, many Canadians still remain abroad, unable to return to Canada due to travel bans and restrictions in countries around the world. Like the neighboring communities of Abbotsford and Cloverdale-Langley City, Mission–Matsqui–Fraser Canyon has a large number of impacted residents of Indian descent who, due to no fault of their own, have been unable to return from India as a result of its government imposing a travel ban within the country. As MP Jansen and MP Fast have indicated, we know this is also the case for other families throughout British Columbia, including many in the Greater Vancouver area.
To this end, we have taken note of efforts by your government and private citizens to arrange for repatriation flights from cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. Unfortunately, the cost of such flights, if available at all, has escalated dramatically, imposing an additional financial burden on already stressed out Canadians. More significantly, as almost all of our stranded residents are located in or near the State of Punjab, additional logistical and safety/security challenges remain with respect to transporting them to major airports elsewhere in India.
As you continue to negotiate with the Indian authorities and airlines to facilitate this travel, time is of the essence. We implore you to consider flights not just from Delhi and Mumbai but from cities within Punjab, such as Amritsar and Chandigarh. This would dramatically improve the viability of returning our citizens and residents to Canada, as many of them are located in that region of India. We also encourage you to work closely with individuals in the private sector to achieve our common goal.
Thank you in advance for taking the safety and security of Canadians into account as you respond to this important request. Please stay safe as you continue to provide leadership to our country during this very difficult time.
Brad Vis, MP