OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 8, 2012) - The National President of the Customs and Immigration Union which represents front line border services and inland immigration enforcement officers has raised pointed questions for the Minister of Public Safety following yesterday's announcement of a new initiative to combat human trafficking.
"Like all Canadians, the CIU and its members fully support targeted new initiatives to fight the scourge of human trafficking and clearly the Government recognizes that CBSA officers must have a central role in this new campaign. How is it then that this same Minister that announces this new initiative only weeks ago approved a cut in the front line capacity to deliver it?"
"Human trafficking is something that deserves a commitment of trained and specially dedicated operational resources yet this Government is blindly tolerating sweeping front line cuts at the Canada Border Services Agency. Fighting human trafficking requires leadership and making choices among priorities. It's more than holding a media conference and making announcements."
Fortin also noted that the announced plan includes an intelligence focus and increased RCMP/CBSA integration in providing critical border security measures to prevent human smuggling.
"Whether he appreciates it or not, the Minister's announcement on human trafficking is completely undermined by CBSA's decision to cut costs by decimating the Agency's intelligence capacities while continuing its lavish luxury hotel meetings for hundreds of managers. Meanwhile, the Minister continues to allow CBSA to avoid its operational responsibilities by not participating in the cross border marine enforcement 'Shiprider' program, the authorization of which is curiously buried in the Budget Bill, C-38."
CIU President Fortin was emphatic in the union's support for fighting human trafficking but urged Minister Toews to himself ask the right questions of CBSA management.
"If the Minister and the Government intend to achieve the results of this worthwhile initiative they will need to direct CBSA to publicly reveal what front line operational and intelligence services cuts are scheduled and why CBSA refuses to participate in border enforcement between ports of entry as authorized by law. Anything less will turn this important initiative to help the most vulnerable into hollow words without real results."
The Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) is a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents Canada's Front-Line Customs and Immigration Officers. CIU also represents Investigation, Intelligence and Trade Customs Officers, Immigration Inland Enforcement and Hearings Officers, as well as all support staff - all of whom work at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).