Federal budget cuts threaten the country's borders

Canada’s borders under threat, says union official

Having people use phones, as in the case in Stewart, B.C., isn't working, says president of Customs and Immigration Union of Canada

  • Aug. 25, 2015 5:00 p.m.

The president of the union representing federal border agents says a continuing series of budget and personnel cuts represents a threat to the country’s security.

And Jean-Pierre Fortin from the Customs and Immigration Union singled out Stewart as a place where a change in procedure hasn’t worked.

This spring the Canada Border Services Agency closed the border between Stewart and Hyder, Alaska from midnight to 8 a.m.

There’s now a phone in place so that people wishing to enter Canada can call a border services officer in Beaver Creek in the Yukon during that eight-hour period.

“But they don’t know who they’re speaking with and they’re clearing them without knowing how many people there might actually be there or what they have,” said Fortin.

And if the border services agency told people this was a way to save money, that isn’t the case either, Fortin continued.

“What they have is two officers on standby. They’re paying them a premium. Frankly we don’t know where the savings is,” said Fortin.

Those officers would then be called out to the Stewart-Hyder border if the officer at Beaver Creek in the Yukon felt a physical examination was in order.

“This is all ludicrous right now,” added Fortin who said having those two officers at the border made more sense and would be just as economical.

Elsewhere, Fortin said there’s a push to clear people and goods without there being enough border officers on duty to do secondary checks and enough officers in places such as Prince Rupert to examine containers coming into the port there.

“That’s why we’re saying the country is at risk right now,” he continued.

Fortin said Canadians should be especially worried about two pilot projects ready to be tested at one crossing in in Manitoba and at another one in Quebec where border officers will be removed altogether.

Instead, people wishing to cross will be interviewed by agents in Hamilton, Ontario, he said.

“All they’re going to do is see you briefly on a camera,” said Fortin.

“I think what we are going to see is a shut down of all small border crossings in Canada,” he added of manned posts.

The Customs and Immigration Union represents approximately 10,400 people, a drop from 11,300 just several years ago.

Fortin said that while there may be no layoffs, agents that leave aren’t being replaced.

The union is a component of the much larger Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Fortin is touring the region with Public Service Alliance of Canada vice president Chris Alyward and Leanne Hughes who represents Customs and Immigration Union members along B.C.’s coast.

 

Just Posted

New funding opens for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Former resident wins filmmaking award

Veronika Kurz will be able to make her film with $15,000 cash and in-kind services, up to $100,000

Terrace River Kings win CIHL regular season

The boys held a strong enough lead in points to claim the banner after a 15-2 win Saturday

Terrace residents discuss poverty at provincial engagement meeting

80 people were there as well as the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Premier offers condolences to family of boy, 15, killed in Vancouver crossfire

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Players sought for National Aboriginal Hockey Championships

ISPARC calls for bantam/midget players to register for selection camp in Kamloops

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read