The situation at airports and ports of entry across the country continues to deteriorate, and it’s clear the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the federal government have no plan to get international travel back on track anytime soon.
While travellers returning to the country are piling up in airports and cars are lining up at ports of entry, the Government of Canada would rather double-down and expand the poorly-implemented ArriveCAN application than rely on the expertise of the border officers who have continued to serve the Canadian public throughout the pandemic.
At the same time, with too few officers across the country, CBSA prefers to introduce heavy-handed measures towards staff, such as imposing overtime and denying leave. Instead of finding effective long-term solutions, the Agency is further stretching an already thinned-out workforce with complete disregard for the impacts on workers’ mental and physical wellbeing. It also weakens border operations across the board when officers are pulled away from important security-oriented duties, such as intercepting dangerous goods.
Let’s be clear: These troubling staffing issues and considerable delays at the border have been years in the making. And at no point has the federal government—past or present—sought to consult the dedicated frontline officers on how to ensure smooth and efficient border processes.
If the government wants to get serious about avoiding lengthy delays and severe impacts on border security, tourism, and cross-border commercial activities for years to come, the solution is simple: Stop depending on inefficient automated technologies, hire more officers, and rely on their expertise.
We’ve been vocal about this: The government needs a long-term plan now, and automation is not the solution. The Customs and Immigration Union is set to meet with Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, in early August, and we’re hopeful he’ll listen.
In the meantime, sign the letter below to remind the government of the urgent action needed to give travellers and workers a much-needed reprieve.
This article was first posted on the PSAC website.