The President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), John Ossowski, has made a statement in response to recent media stories about redeployment of CBSA staff to address irregular migration.
“As the President of the CBSA, I wish to clarify inaccuracies and misinformation contained in recent media stories.
“The CBSA has a long and rich history of providing border services in an exemplary fashion, and does so through the collective contribution of over 14,000 dedicated and professional men and women.
“In support of our mandate, and recognising that the CBSA is an important contributor to Canada’s safety, security and prosperity, we invest significant effort annually to plan and prepare for various peak periods, including the summer travel season. Significant analysis is conducted to inform us on resources that will be required to address projected trends and patterns to ensure alignment of resources to service demand.
“This approach has served us well in past summers, with facilitative service to clients being effectively balanced against our security and safety responsibilities.
“An article falsely states that ‘…border and customs agents are being pulled from the Greater Toronto Area…’ The reality is that we issued a call letter to identify officers across the country, including the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), to solicit interest from officers who would be mobile and ready to assist our operations in Lacolle, and if needed, elsewhere in the country to address increases in volumes – this is a key part of maintaining a dynamic and flexible workforce that can readily respond to emerging issues.
“As part of our planning, each of our operational regions have initiated the establishment of what we term a “surge capacity workforce” that can be called upon in the event of operational requirements. These officers are typically re-deployed for short periods of time on an as-needed basis. The 800 employees that contributed to the CBSA’s efforts in Lacolle last summer, have described it as an enriching, rewarding and meaningful experience.
“Specifically to GTA, I would like to highlight that the Agency’s resources at Toronto Pearson International Airport have increased by 6 percent over the last two years. In addition, we have increased our Student Border Services Officer recruitment by 26 percent for this summer. The student officers do not replace our fully trained officers, they complement our workforce and conduct a subset of functions and activities that support service to travellers. They do not replace border service officers. Only trained officers carry out intelligence and enforcement functions.
“I would also highlight that some of our current officers were previously student officers themselves.
“We have also successfully established innovative processes to enhance the traveller experience and manage volumes, like the International-to-Domestic and the International-to-International programs that significantly decrease connection times and improve services. When combined with existing and new technologies such as Automated Border Clearance, NEXUS and Primary Inspection Kiosks, the CBSA has never had more processing capacity than it does today.
“As for the GTA staff that could be redeployed, not all staff in GTA work at the airport; some of our surge capacity requirements may include administrative staff or non-frontline staff. As of today, the CBSA will be redeploying two non-frontline staff from GTA to Montréal for a 4-week period. This will have no impact on our services at Pearson.
“The CBSA has a long standing, strong and collaborative relationship with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. We will continue to meet with them regularly to review service requirements, enhancement opportunities, and required resources, so that we can, once again, deliver exceptional service to all travellers through the Pearson International Airport this summer.”