Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities: Annual report

Submitted by: John Ossowski
President, Canada Border Services Agency

Table of contents


This report by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA, or ‘the Agency’) is presented to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (the Minister) to meet the Agency’s requirement to prepare an annual report on the Order in Council: Directions for Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities (hereafter referred to as the OiC). The report is made in accordance with subsection 7(1) of the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act (ACMFE Act), which directs the CBSA to produce an annual report to the Minister regarding the application of the OiC for the previous year’s activities by no later than .

The mandate and role of the Canada Border Services Agency

The CBSA was established by the Canada Border Services Act and is an integral part of the Public Safety Portfolio. The CBSA administers more than 90 acts, regulations, and international agreements, many on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, or the provinces and territories.

The Agency's legislative, regulatory and partnership responsibilities include the followingFootnote 1:

The CBSA and information-sharing

The CBSA relies on information to execute its border management responsibilities safely and efficiently. The Agency collects, retains, and shares information strictly within the parameters of its border management mandate, as set out by CBSA program legislation.

Characteristics of information-sharing activities

The CBSA is a net consumer of information. The majority of information in CBSA holdings is derived from private sector stakeholders (such as air carriers or commercial transport companies). This information is provided to the CBSA under regulatory requirements and allows the Agency to make timely, risk-based decisions on the admissibility of people and goods attempting to enter Canada. Individuals and private sector stakeholders also provide information to the CBSA when engaging in one of its ‘trusted’ programs (e.g. Trusted Traveler or Trusted Trader).

The CBSA identifies and manage higher-risk cases effectively by augmenting this regulatory information with information received from public safety partners such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). As outlined in legislative authorities, and mirrored in the CBSA’s policies and operational guidance, the CBSA only exchanges information with domestic and international partners in cases where the activity is permissible under the Customs Act or the Privacy Act. These exchanges are well-codified in various written arrangements and agreements.

The CBSA’s information-sharing with foreign entities mostly implicates the Border Five (B5) allies (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand)Footnote 2.

Although the CBSA has numerous partnerships and manages a substantial amount of information, given the context described above, its information sharing activities are generally low-risk in terms of possible association with mistreatment.

The CBSA recognizes that one of its key responsibilities is to be a steward of the information in its control. In line with the OiC, the CBSA continues to implement measures to augment its management of information-sharing activities.

Interdepartmental coordination

In developing its policy in support of the OiC, the CBSA has ensured that it is applying a compatible and complementary approach to that of other federal partners in terms of how it assesses risk attached to its information-sharing activities with foreign entities.

The CBSA continues to be an active participant in the Public Safety-led Information-Sharing Coordination Group (ISCG). This group is working to ensure that the implementation of the OiC is consistent across all implicated federal departments and agencies. Through this group, the CBSA leverages the risk assessments of partners such as the RCMP, Global Affairs Canada, and CSIS to ensure that the Agency is approaching risk of mistreatment in a manner consistent with similarly-mandated partners, and within the Government of Canada’s larger international framework.

Through the ISCG, the CBSA has been closely involved with partners on the following priorities:

New policies, guidance, and procedures related to the OiC

The CBSA’s participation in the ISCG has shaped the development of the CBSA’s forthcoming national policy entitled Policy and Guidelines for the Order in Council to the CBSA: Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities (the policy).

The CBSA’s policy is being developed to support the consistent application of the OiC across all of the CBSA’s domestic and international operations, and recognizes that a potential conflict exists between the need for operational efficiency and the need to adhere to the dictates of the OiC. As such, the forthcoming policy clearly outlines roles and responsibilities while promoting accountability through the separation of day-to-day operations and OiC-related risk assessment activities. Associated organizational adjustments have been identified and are currently being implemented.

The Agency’s revised approach to implementing the OiC is expected to evolve through continued engagement with internal stakeholders, through existing and future review bodies, as well as through continued consultations with portfolio and other federal government partners.

Awareness and training

Once finalized, the OiC policy will be published on the CBSA intranet, along with any associated standard operating procedures. Together, these documents will be available for agency-wide use, and will provide both policy and operational guidance to CBSA officials. As per best practices, an awareness campaign, including formal communications regarding the release of the policy, will be carried out.

CBSA employees regularly conducting information-sharing activities, or those whose responsibilities may bring them into information-sharing scenarios, have access to additional training on information-sharing tailored to their particular roles and responsibilities. This approach ensures that training is commensurate with risk.

The existing policy and associated resources for the 2017 Ministerial Directive on Complicity, which the 2019 OiC replaces, remain in effect and provide an interim measure for ensuring that the CBSA avoids implication in potential mistreatment as it transitions to a more formalized risk-assessment framework.

Activity report: to

The CBSA’s 2019 report includes OiC-related activities conducted from (the date of issuance for the OiC) to (the last day of the reporting period).

The following section outlines by category of activity any cases that required the Agency to engage the OiC during the reporting period described above:

  1. Disclosures of Information requiring OiC engagement
    The CBSA had no cases.
  2. Requests for Information made requiring OiC engagement
    The CBSA had no cases.
  3. Use of Information requiring OiC engagement
    The CBSA had no cases.
  4. Restriction of any arrangements due to concerns related to mistreatment
    The CBSA had no cases.
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