If the International Border Caucus is unsuccessful, Canadians will have to pay a fee to visit the United States via “air or sea” beginning November 5th.
Ontario Senator Bob Runciman’s office shared a release from U.S. State Senator Patty Ritchie’s office entitled: “Border Senators oppose ‘visitor tax’ on Canadians.”
According to the release, “New York State Senators who represent districts along the 450-mile US-Canadian border joined together to urge Congress to repeal a new $5.50 visitor fee that they say will hurt small businesses who rely on Canadian tourists, cost New Yorkers their jobs, and further damage relations between the two nations.”
“The 11 members of the State Senate’s bipartisan International Border Caucus signed a letter to both US Senators from New York, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, urging them to fight for a repeal of the new fee.”
Included in the letter, “We urge you to join us in working together to remove this tax on our Canadian friends that will hurt our economy and cost jobs across New York State.”
Runciman, the Border Caucus’ Canadian co-chair, agreed with the U.S. senators saying, “This fee, depending on how it is implemented, could be extremely damaging. I’m particularly worried about the impact on the boat cruise business if they are not granted an exemption.”
He went on to say that he’s “grateful for the support of the International Border Caucus on this issue. It’s exactly the sort of cross-border cooperation we hoped for when Senators Patty Ritchie, Joseph Griffo and I decided to put together a binational group of legislators who serve border communities.”
The “visitor fee” is actually a clause in the U.S.-Colombia free trade deal which removes exemption from the tariff for travelers from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada and Mexico have been exempt from the tariff since 1997.
The Leader spoke with Senator Runciman’s Executive Assistant, Barry Raison, asking whether Canada has a similar tax for Americans visiting Canada. “I’m not aware that we do,” he said.
Raison confirmed that “the (Canadian) government is working to convince them (U.S.) it’s not the right thing to do.”
As for who is affected by the tax, Raison reported “we’re trying to clarify” that, but it appears that the tax does “not apply to recreational boaters.”
How will this tax situation affect Canada and Canadians? As Raison said, “we’ll have to wait and see.”