31 August 2006
Surrey, British Columbia
Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined the Government of Canada’s plan to improve border security in B.C. and across this country.
“A safe, secure and efficient border is important for Canada, and for all Canadians,” said Prime Minister Harper. “It is vital to our country’s economy, and will protect the safety and security of all of our local communities.”
Strengthening Canada’s border security will also create positive change for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers. In the 2006 Budget, $101 million was committed over the next two years to do the following:
• 400 new permanent border CBSA officers will be hired, trained and equipped so that they are no longer required to work alone.
• 4,400 CBSA officers at land and marine Ports of Entry (POEs), as well as officers who perform enforcement functions inland, will be trained and equipped with side-arms.
“Arming CBSA officers and eliminating situations where these officers work alone will allow them to do their job better and more effectively,” said the Prime Minister. “This continues to show that this Government believes in secure, efficient borders, and is getting things done for Canadian families and taxpayers.”
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The Prime Minister is announcing that the Government is moving forward with arming Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers and eliminating work-alone situations. This will fulfill a campaign promise, as well as commitments made in Budget 2006.
The federal budget provided $101 million over two years to begin the process of providing CBSA officers with side-arms, and ensure that they are no longer required to work alone.
Approximately 4,400 CBSA officers at land and marine ports of entry will be trained and equipped with side-arms. In addition, 400 new permanent officers will be hired to address all work alone situations, and also be trained and equipped with side-arms. Officers working solely at international airports will not be armed.
It is expected that fully trained and armed officers will begin to be deployed as early as September 2007. By March 31, 2008, roughly 150 armed officers will have been deployed. Full implementation is expected to take place over a period of 10 years.
The CBSA manages, controls and secures Canada’s border at approximately 1,200 points across Canada. Border Services Officers face a growing challenge in intercepting potential threats, including high risk individuals, firearms, explosives and drugs.
An average of 260,000 travelers are processed into Canada every day. Some of these travelers pose risks to the border officers at border crossings. In 2004, there were 621 weapons seizures, 8,711 drug seizures valued at $290 million, and currency seizures from suspected proceeds of crime valued at approximately $12,978,867. In addition, work-alone situations currently occur at 138 border sites, 95 of which are land port of entries. These situations put CBSA officers at increased risks.
Canada’s New Government is committed to ensuring that our borders are protected from those who threaten the security of Canada, while ensuring that legitimate commerce or travel is not delayed.
To ensure Canada’s borders are secure, the Government must ensure that those who guard our borders are themselves secure. Providing CBSA officers with side-arms and training, and ensuring that work-alone situations are eliminated, will help achieve this goal.
Arming CBSA officers will improve their effectiveness at the border by enabling them to pursue enforcement activities to a greater extent before involving police agency.
As well, arming CBSA officers engaged in activities away from the points of entry will also enhance security by allowing officers to mitigate risks associated with operating in uncontrolled environments. This will reduce the need for police escort, and provide greater flexibility while undertaking investigations, gathering intelligence, and arresting and removing individuals.
Eliminating work-alone situations will improve the safety of CBSA officers by reducing their vulnerability and personal sense of risk.