Tag Archives: CBSA

CBSA’s Summer Action Plan 2022 — A slap in the face to our members

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Recently, the Canada Border Services Agency announced its Summer Action Plan (SAP) for 2022, seeking to mitigate anticipated summertime operational pressures on border operations. The Plan makes it clear that the Agency is well aware of the mounting challenges around issues such as an increase in the volume of travellers, higher border wait times, and improper staffing levels, all of which have a direct impact on a wide range of border operations across the country.

Unfortunately, far from offering long-term sustainable solutions to the very real issues affecting CBSA personnel and travellers from coast to coast, the CBSA’s SAP is an exercise in rushed and ill-conceived measures that only risks further damaging the already frayed trust between management and officers.

As per CBSA, the SAP is intended as an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ endeavour with the goal of ‘maximizing primary inspection line capacity’ until mid-September. Unfortunately, this will not be achieved through any real bolstering of actual staffing levels, but rather through measures such as mandatory overtime, mandatory shift changes, lengthier Primary Inspection Line assignments, and even the threat of reducing or outright denying discretionary leave.

For years, CIU has called upon the employer to increase the number of trained frontline officers instead of simply relying on a variety of technological measures to address issues at the border. Of course, we know that these measures — including automated Primary Inspection Kiosks, Remote Traveler Processing and, as we have seen in recent months, ArriveCan — often have the effect of making the border noticeably less efficient by lengthening processing times while also contributing to a decrease in border security.

Simply put, the CBSA’s Summer Action Plan is both a testament to the Agency’s lack of vision and a prime example of its complete disregard for the well-being of its officers. Over the last few years, Border Officers have worked continuously to serve their fellow Canadians and ensure the integrity and safety of our border, despite serious understaffing affecting ports of entry across Canada. This new Action Plan is a slap in the face to our members: By continuing to stretch an already thinned-out workforce, the Agency makes clear its willingness to endlessly sap the mental and physical health of its officers.

We cannot and will not let the Agency proceed unimpeded. At this time, even though the employer has already started implementing the Plan in parts of the country, we understand that not all officers will have been briefed by management.  We are also aware that the measures proposed under the SAP will be concerning to many of our members, and we are currently exploring all avenues to defend their rights and protect their health and safety. Further communication will follow in the coming weeks.

Minister Blair signs off on joint CIU and CBSA anti-racism initiative

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Joint statement on anti-racism: We can do better together

We — the Minister of Public Safety, President and Executive Vice-President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the National President of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) — are standing together to reiterate our commitment to eliminating systemic racism.

We recognize that all workplaces should be respectful, free of harassment and discrimination. The events of 2020 have reinforced our commitment and sharpened our focus on the reality of systemic racism. We need to do more to address and strive to eliminate racism in the CBSA workplace and workforce.

Acknowledging the problem is only the first step. We are now turning our attention to working together to deliver positive and lasting changes.

Today we are coming together to take action. The CBSA senior management has recently established an Agency‑wide Task Force on anti‑racism. The Task Force is developing an anti‑racism strategy that takes a whole‑of‑Agency approach to tackle systemic racism within the CBSA by listening, learning and taking action.

Additionally, an initiative proposed by the CIU is making headway. Last spring, the Minister of Public Safety, the President of the CBSA and the CIU agreed that anti‑racism training should be developed for all CBSA employees. The CIU National Executive identified a group of dedicated members who will work with the CBSA HR team and Anti-Racism Task Force to develop that training as well as de‑escalation training for frontline officers. These efforts are aimed at fostering positive and respectful interaction amongst CBSA employees and with the diverse clientele they serve at facilities and ports of entry across the country.

Canada has a long history of colonialism that continues to have a big impact on Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. But today we step forward together to demonstrate our commitment to real change.

CBSA employees stand guard at the longest land border in the world. Our efforts to eliminate systemic barriers will benefit Agency employees and better support the public and travellers we serve every day.

As we move forward, we encourage all of you to become familiar with the initiatives and resources that will be introduced in the coming months, and to join us in standing in solidarity with all peoples, particularly those who have experienced racism and discrimination.

Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

John Ossowski
President, CBSA

Paul MacKinnon
Executive Vice-President, CBSA

Jean-Pierre Fortin
National President, CIU


CIU also wishes to thank the members of the union’s working groups on anti-racism and de-escalation training for their continued work and efforts.

CIU anti-racism working group

Co-Chairs:  Joey Dunphy and Murray Star

Members:

  • Jenny Mathelier
  • Neha Sarao
  • Lisa Morgan
  • Tacia Kilty
  • Sukhpreet Singh Heir

CIU de-escalation training working group

Chair:  Rick Savage

Members:

  • Ben Hurdle
  • Paul Finn
  • Rildo Gutierrez
  • Mike Fraser

CIU welcomes Auditor General’s report on harassment and violence in the workplace

CIU Flag / Drapeau du SDI

We applaud the Auditor General’s recent report that found that both the Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Service Canada were well aware of issues of workplace harassment, discrimination and violence – yet did little to curb the problem.

The Auditor General’s report confirms what the union and our members have known for a long time. Despite being on the receiving end of hundreds of grievances regarding harassment and discrimination in the workplace, too often has CBSA chosen to delay and stall. Just last fall, CIU’s National President, Jean-Pierre Fortin, was vocal about CBSA’s management creating a “toxic workplace culture through fear, intimidation and harassment,” calling upon the government to “launch an independent, third party investigation to look into these serious abuses of power by managers.”

We are pleased to see that Minister Blair as well as CBSA reacted favourably to the Auditor General’s recommendations. In light of this report, we remain fully committed to work with CBSA to foster a better environment for our members and ensure that real work is done to create a safer, healthier workplace.

Further reading

CBSA must address abuse of authority and harassment by management

Photo of cars at border crossing

The unions representing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees are demanding immediate action to address abuse of authority and harassment by management at the agency.

In a video released today, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) outline several cases which have gone unaddressed by CBSA.

“Management is creating a toxic workplace culture through fear, intimidation and harassment,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, National President of the Customs and Immigration Union. “The government must launch an independent, third party investigation to look into these serious abuses of power by managers.”

Incidents reported by PSAC-CIU members include:

  • A male supervisor physically assaulting a female officer in front of several witnesses without repercussions;
  • A manager forcing officers to conduct an illegal strip search of a bus full of students;
  • A manager punching a Border Services Officer in the face unprovoked.

A couple of months ago, CBSA unveiled a video threatening surveillance of members at work and harsh disciplinary measures for a range of offences. The video, warning members that “discipline in the workplace happens” and “the consequences may surprise you,” reinforces the need for better protections against harassment and abuse of authority in the next collective agreement.

In the latest round of bargaining, PSAC-CIU are also proposing new whistleblower protections for members who report CBSA wrongdoing.

“The constant threat of discipline has a devastating impact on the mental health and well-being of our members,” said Fortin. “Our members are safeguarding Canada’s borders; they should feel like CBSA stands behind them.”

It’s not surprising that a significant number of CBSA employees (40%) report their workplace as being psychologically unhealthy in the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey.

In addition, nearly a quarter of employees (22%) have also reported being victims of harassment on the job in the past year, significantly higher than the rest of the federal public service (15%).

CBSA must put an end to its two-tiered system of discipline and reprimand managers who abuse their authority and harass employees. Better, fairer protections are needed for all PSAC-CIU members.

PSAC-CIU and Treasury Board/Canada Border Services Agency return to the bargaining table on January 21-23, 2020.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.

FB bargaining team striving to make CBSA a better place to work

Our PSAC-Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) bargaining team raised issues around vacation leave, medical notes, student workers and firearm practice time during negotiations with Treasury Board/Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) July 30 to August 1.

The team also reached an agreement to fairly compensate CBSA dog handlers.

Other key issues discussed at the table include:

Protections from CBSA Management

We continue to raise problems related to CBSA management culture and CBSA’s dealings with employees. In addition to proposals we’ve made concerning new protections in the context of discipline, abuse of authority and harassment, our team spoke again this week to our proposal to ensure whistleblowing protections are in place for PSAC/CIU members in the event of CBSA wrongdoing.

Paid Leave

Our team addressed the need for us to achieve improved leave and work-life balance. Most ports are understaffed, and overtime use is rampant. We have proposed an increase in annual leave to match what RCMP constables are afforded. We also raised issues related to access to leave with income averaging (LWIA).

Medical Notes

There is no clear policy with respect to employees being required to provide medical notes. CBSA managers often require employees to provide medical notes based on subjective criteria. Our position is that if management wants a medical note, they can pay for the costs associated with obtaining it.

Firearm Practice Time

Our team is demanding that officers be provided paid time for firearm practice, consistent with the Agency’s previous practice.

Student workers

We again raised the issue of students working at airports. In several locations across the country, students are being employed as a cheap labour force and undermining both the safety and security of Canadians and our collective agreement rights. Our proposals in bargaining regarding student use would rectify these issues.

Dog Handlers, grievance procedure, telework

We continued this week to push for language that would streamline the grievance process, and to provide better access to telework options for non-uniformed personnel. We also raised and resolved issues with CBSA management with respect to compensation for officers with dog-handling responsibilities.

We are scheduled to return to the bargaining table in September.

To review the package of proposals that we tabled and those of the employer, go to: psacunion.ca/fb. We’ll be sure to provide updates as things progress.

We stand tall for law enforcement

Together as FBs, we’ve achieved incredible victories over the years. PSAC is the largest union in the federal public service, and one of the largest public sector unions in the country.  No other union has more experience in bargaining and representation within the federal public service than PSAC and CIU.

  • We successfully won the right for Border Services Officers to be armed in 2006.
  • Since 2007, PSAC-CIU successfully negotiated a 48% increase in compensation for frontline BSO, including a 17.5% raise in 2018.
  • We won significant new rights for shift workers, including protections in the context of VSSA negotiations and seniority rights.

Standing together, we will continue to work together and hold the CBSA’s feet to the fire to ensure we can continue to make groundbreaking gains for FB members.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.