Tag Archives: CBSA

CBSA: Twenty years of undermining the human element

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.

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


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

CIU de-escalation training working group

Chair:  Rick Savage


  • 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.

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