At least one civil liberties organization says the Canada Border Services Agency needs an independent complaints agency similar to those that oversee police forces in the country.
The government says it is working on just that as it conducts a wider review of government oversight policies, including the creation of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, which would include the CBSA.
Both assertions follow a report by the Canadian Press news agency that it found 105 so-called “founded” complaints of 875 complaints filed for CBSA misconduct last year
“Founded,” according to the CBSA, means that “aspects in the allegations made in the complaint were valid.”But the national co-ordinator of the Toronto-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Tim McSorey, says the definition is too vague to bring about the changes that he says are needed in the agency’s culture.
Complaints, according to CP, included allegations of racism and rudeness – and one instance of a woman alleging a border officer yelled at her while she was in medical distress.
The total number of complaints registered through CBSA’s “Compliments, Comments and Complaints website represent less that a tenth of one per cent of 95 million travellers seen by agents last year and Jean-Pierre Fortin,i the president of the Customs and Immigration Union, says the CP investigation shows only a tiny minority misconduct cases.
Fortin says the agency has lost more than 1,000 officers through attrition since 2012 and officers are now working longer hours on the front lines, heightening fatigue.
The website received 302 complements.
With files from CP, CBC, Global News, Globe and Mail,