Tag Archives: délais

Urgent action needed to address border delays: Automation is not the solution

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.

Delays at the border: CBSA lets border officers and travelers down

Airplane seen from above.

With no end in sight to delays affecting travelers at airports and border crossings across the country, it’s clear the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has no plan to to get travel back on track anytime soon. This is only made more evident by CBSA’s recently announced Summer Action Plan (SAP) for 2022, which lacks any long-term fixes to address the lengthy delays and staff shortages that threaten to burden an already strained system for years to come.

“We’re concerned the measures proposed by the Agency will only serve to further inconvenience travelers and undermine border security,” said Mark Weber, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU). “Minister Marco Mendicino and CBSA must commit to a real plan and increase the number of border officers as soon as possible to prevent any further reduction in service for travelers.”

CBSA’s action plan is meant to relieve summertime pressures on border services, but it fails to address the root causes of the issues affecting CBSA workers and travelers across the country: chronic understaffing and an over-reliance on inefficient, automated technologies.

Instead, the plan focuses on poorly planned half-measures including mandatory overtime for officers, suspending non-essential training and exercises, lengthier assignments, reallocating dedicated enforcement teams, and even reducing or outright denying discretionary leave.

“Despite facing insurmountable challenges, border services officers have never faltered in their commitment to keeping Canadians safe throughout the pandemic,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “But the federal government clearly doesn’t recognize their contributions and the incredible strain they’ve been under. As we head into the next round of bargaining with Treasury Board and CBSA, improving staffing levels and working conditions will be key issues for our members.”

The troubling staffing issues and considerable delays at the border have been years in the making. CIU estimates that there is a total deficit of 1,000 to 3,000 officers at all levels of border operations. Yet CBSA and the federal government have chosen to continue to stretch an already thinned-out workforce. By discounting the physical and mental well-being of border services officers, the government only risks alienating and losing dedicated personnel.

“While Canadians are ready to start traveling again, CBSA is ill-equipped to deal with the surge in border traffic, and the government isn’t prepared  to address these issues effectively,” said Weber. “If the government wants to get serious about avoiding lengthy delays for years to come, the solution is simple: hire more officers, and rely on their expertise.”

PSAC to File Complaint – Treasury Board Will Not Meet PA, SV, TC & EB Collective Agreements Deadline

Bargaining

PSAC is taking swift action in response to Treasury Board’s admission that it will not be meeting the implementation deadline for the PA, SV, TC and EB collective agreements. On behalf of the over 100,000 workers covered by these agreements, PSAC will file a complaint with the federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board.

“PSAC is seeking compensation for our members,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “This government irresponsibly moved forward with the Phoenix rollout, despite our warnings. Our members continue to suffer because of that decision and it is unacceptable.”

In a meeting last week, Treasury Board officials confirmed that it would not meet the 150-day implementation deadline for all the workers covered by the four collective agreements. These agreements, which took over two and a half years to negotiate, were signed on June 14, 2017.

This admission confirmed PSAC’s suspicion that Phoenix would derail implementation. PSAC will ask the Board to order the Employer to pay damages to those affected, and to take all necessary steps to immediately comply with the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Act and implement the terms of the Collective Agreements.

Once the employer has responded to the complaint a hearing date will be set. PSAC will continue to keep its members updated on developments.

A version of this article was first published on the PSAC website.