THUNDER BAY – For shoppers and travelers headed to the United States the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union that covers workers at the Canadian Border Services Agency advises that there are likely to be longer line-ups and longer wait times.
In a statement issued late Thursday, PSAC says, “As many Canadian shoppers travel south of the border to take advantage of “Black Friday” deals on November 23, they should also expect traffic congestion to be exceptionally high and longer wait times. These longer wait times are a direct result of staffing cuts at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)”.
“To let Canadians know how they are being affected by these cuts, border services personnel will be speaking out on Black Friday. The Conservative government this year alone has cut $143 million from the CBSA budget. This has led to the elimination of 625 plain clothes personnel, 100 intelligence officers and 300 uniformed border service positions”.
“Border Services personnel apprehend dangerous criminals and help to stop the entry of drugs and weapons into our country. Despite this vital service, the Conservative government has slashed CBSA’s budget and placed Canadians and border service personnel in jeopardy,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for Ontario.
“Our members work to keep our borders safe and moving efficiently. On the front-lines, they bear the brunt of travelers’ frustration and anger over delays,” she continued. “When you cut public sector workers, the level of service is cut along with them,” she added.
The CBSA responded to the PSAC release on Thursday. These claims are completely unfounded. There have been no reductions of front-line staff in the inspection lanes at our ports of entry. Any union action that undermines the Agency’s efforts to process people and goods would be regrettable.
“The CBSA has planned for the anticipated heavy traffic volumes this Black Friday weekend, and we are well aware of the potential impact of a strong Canadian dollar and the new exemption limits. While we have more inspection lanes than this time last year, we continue to monitor our operations and we are well positioned to address any increases in traffic volumes. All lanes will be open at peak times, and travelers can expect professional, efficient and courteous service from our officers”.
Staffing levels and a heavy workload are some of the main issues for members of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU), a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents CBSA workers. These issues are affecting the quality of service at our borders, ultimately making them less safe.
“Everyday these men and women risk their lives for our security and their concerns are being ignored,” states Jason McMichael, CIU National Vice-President for Ontario. “Given the importance of this service, the government needs to address these concerns immediately.”