CBSA: Twenty years of undermining the human element

August 24, 2023
Photo of CIU flag

Recently, CBSA shared a post on social media celebrating its twentieth anniversary. What should have been an innocuous statement instead shed light on just how disconnected the Agency is from its history, its personnel, and its mission towards Canadians.

It’s hard to believe such a short publication could so succinctly embody much of what is wrong with the Agency’s vision for Canada’s borders.

From the ill-advised attempt at using an archive photo from what looks to be the 1930s to represent the turn of the millennium to the post’s sole focus on travel facilitation through automation, it’s clear the Agency understands little about the passage of time, and even less about what CBSA stands for.

While it’s easy to laugh at the idea that a federal agency seems to think that the early 2000s are indistinguishable from the first half of the past century, CBSA’s obsession with automation and facilitation is undoubtedly more concerning.

It will likely not come as a surprise to most border personnel who are used to the Agency’s ways, but it is telling that CBSA chose to highlight twenty years of existence by touting its automated kiosks without touching upon any aspect of border security whatsoever. It’s also telling that the Agency chose to illustrate the current state of affairs by using a sterile picture of its eGates with nary a person — traveller or Border Services personnel alike — in the foreground. Clearly, for CBSA, the human element is of little importance.

So, too, it would appear, is the security aspect of its mission. Our Border Services Agency plays a role far greater than simply facilitating entry at airports. As Canada’s first line of defense, CBSA officers are dedicated to protecting our communities. For the past twenty years, they have played a crucial role in keeping all manner of public safety threats that could harm Canadians out of our country — including dangerous offenders involved in trafficking illegal firearms, drugs, and child pornography. How little must the Agency think of this work to leave it out of a simple celebratory post? How little must it think of its personnel or its responsibility to Canadians?

Again — and sadly — this probably won’t come as a surprise to those working for the Agency. For years, CIU has called upon the government and CBSA to better support its officers and invest in its personnel, and for years the Agency has disregarded this, preferring to pursue the very opposite. Still, CBSA’s position has rarely been made as evident as it is in this latest social media post: The Agency is telling us loud and clear what it is, and it’s not good for Canadians. We should listen.

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