As front-line officers, Border Services Officers (BSOs) face potential threats on a daily basis. The ongoing opioid crisis, involving deadly substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil, is no different. This growing issue is affecting communities coast-to-coast and represents a major health and safety issue for BSOs who, as part of the country’s first line of defence, play a crucial role in detecting harmful substances before they enter Canada.
Following two recent opioid-related incidents in Montreal and Fort Erie, the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to review and create health and safety policies aimed at keeping our members safe.
“Being a BSO is a dangerous job,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, CIU National President. “Protecting front-line officers is top priority – making sure that they have access to proper protective equipment in an environment where they are at risk of being in contact with harmful substances is one of the main reasons we exist as a union.”
President Fortin explained that both the union and the employer were looking at a wide range of solutions to complement existing ones. While BSOs already have some access to equipment such as gloves, face masks, and naloxone (a medication which acts quickly to counteract the effects of opioids), the union hopes that new, up-to-date protective measures will help officers continue to perform their much-needed yet dangerous duties in a safer work environment.