Internal Audit and Program Evaluation Directorate
Evaluation Summary of the CBSA Arming Initiative

Program description

The 10-year Arming Initiative was approved by the Government of Canada to enhance border security and improve officers' ability to pursue enforcement activities and handle and mitigate high-risk situations by equipping designated frontline personnel with a duty firearm and associated training. In turn, this provided officers with a broader range of intervention options with which to respond to dangerous situations and conduct enforcement activities.

In February 2011, the decision was made to re-establish the Arming Division within Human Resources Branch (HRB) by re-integrating various elements that had been divided up across Training and Development Directorate (TDD) and the Programs Branch.

About the evaluation

The purpose of the evaluation was to examine the performance (effectiveness, efficiency and economy) of the Arming Initiative, in accordance with the 2016 Treasury Board Policy on Results. The evaluation presented herein is a requirement of the approved Arming Initiative Treasury Board submission.

The evaluation covered $693 million expended over 10 years (from March 2006 to March 2016) and assessed the implementation of the Arming Initiative. The evaluation was conducted from FY 2016-2017 to FY 2017-2018.

Program performance

Program efficiency

1) Efficiency and utilization of financial and human resources

Targets to train and arm the frontline workforce (officers)
Original target (A) Actually Trained (B) Result (B-A)
4,800 6,492 1,692 (Exceeded Target)
Target budget (as of April 2016)
Planned Budget (A) Actual Expenditures (B) Result (A-B)
$785M $694M $91M (Under Budget 12%)

2) Opportunities to more economically or efficiently arm CBSA frontline personnel

Identified Opportunities:

  • More local/regional delivery of certain recertification training to reduce travel costs and increase convenience for officers,
  • Enhanced partnerships with other law enforcement organizations to further facilitate the sharing of resources,
  • The continued evolution of the Use of Force training with consideration for the CBSA operational environment.


To address ongoing challenges associated with the steady-state of Arming and to provide opportunities to more economically/efficiently arm CBSA frontline personnel, the evaluation made five recommendations:

  1. Implement the current phase of the Workforce Strategy to mitigate the impacts of arming-related accommodations on frontline service delivery.
  2. Enhance the understanding and application of the existing policy on the wearing and handling of the protective and defensive equipment in all modes.
  3. As outlined in the Agency's Strategy to Support Mental Health:
    • Implement tools to support managers and employees working in an armed environment.
    • Implement training initiatives related to officers' awareness and knowledge of the mental health of clients.
  4. Complete the assessment of the uniform and duty equipment as a self-defence system, with consideration for ergonomic issues, to ensure that operational needs are met.
  5. Assess firearm training and skills maintenance, including qualification requirements, to ensure that operational needs are met.

The management action and response plan is accessible at Evaluation of the CBSA Arming Initiative.

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