Tag Archives: budget

PSAC-CIU raise border automation concerns with government

Border crossing

In its budget yesterday, the Trudeau government made reference to “modernizing travel and trade at our borders”, and spoke of “transforming the border experience” via “touchless and automated interactions”. This announcement raises several red flags and PSAC-CIU have been quick to react.

For years, PSAC-CIU have been vocal about the potential security pitfalls of border processes being centred around technology as opposed to workers and officers. Talks of further automation raise security and labour concerns that cannot be ignored. In 2017, CIU National President Jean-Pierre Fortin stressed that technology is no substitute for seasoned officers, and this remains true to this day. In correspondence with CBSA following yesterday’s announcement, Jean-Pierre Fortin was unequivocal: technology can support officers on the ground but cannot replace them. If the government is serious about border security, it must ensure proper workforce investments to match technological initiatives.

Automated screening can also disproportionately impact marginalized communities who continue to be subjected to racial profiling.

The government’s border announcements also come at a time when the FB bargaining team is waiting for the Public Interest Commission report. In the wake of these statements, PSAC contacted Treasury Board and put the employer on notice. Changes to working conditions of employees during negotiations without union consent is prohibited under federal law.

The union and management are scheduled to meet in May to discuss the announcement further. We’ll keep you appraised of significant developments.

This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.

Business Sector to Government: Increase CBSA Resources

Map of the Canada-USA Border with the words cross-border trade on top, with two arrows

On May 19, 2017, representatives from organizations across the business sector signed a joint letter, titled Investments in Our Borders, calling upon the federal government to increase CBSA funding and resources to deal with problems demanding urgent attention.

The letter, addressed to several federal ministers and signed by twelve major business sector associations, outlined long-standing cross-border trade problems, such as major delays and shutdowns due to the CBSA’s antiquated IT system. The letter also stressed the negative impact of staffing shortfalls which, combined with technical issues, continue to threaten the efficiency of cross-border commerce between Canada and the USA.

Ultimately, the signatories requested that “the Treasury Board of Canada increase CBSA’s budget as soon as possible to fix CBSA IT issues and add the staff required to help facilitate trade at the border,” highlighting that action is “urgently needed” on the government’s part.

Read the full letter here.