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Key relationships: Ministerial transition 2023

Domestic and international partnerships

The CBSA depends on partnerships with federal agencies and departments, provincial and international governments, and private sector partners and stakeholders in order to achieve its mandate. Leveraging partnerships gives the CBSA access to the right information to make decisions that protect Canada and Canadians; provides for excellent service in safe and secure facilities; and enables the agency to negotiate agreements and arrangements that contribute to modern, integrated global border management strategies.

The CBSA administers more than 100 acts, regulations and international agreements, most on behalf of other federal departments and agencies. Working collaboratively with partners, the agency is better positioned to set priorities and manage its operations by developing processes and designing controls that contribute to the safety and security of all Canadians while facilitating the movement of admissible people and goods, and providing excellent service.

Key federal partners

Public Safety Portfolio

Within the Public Safety Portfolio, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is a key partner in border enforcement. The CBSA is responsible for controlling the movement of goods and people through Canadian ports of entry, whereas the RCMP is responsible for the control between ports of entry and on First Nations reserves. Criminal investigations pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act generally are led by the CBSA, although those involving organized crime, human trafficking or national security issues are led by the RCMP. At the operational level, the RCMP leads a number of integrated teams in which the CBSA actively participates. The CBSA also collaborates with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service on national security issues and Correctional Services Canada on the potential removal of those foreign nationals serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada

Outside the Public Safety Portfolio, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada is a priority partner for the CBSA as the two organizations share responsibility for administering the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Specifically, the CBSA is responsible for administering IRPA at Canadian ports of entry and enforcing it inland (for example, investigations, detentions, removals, and appearances before the Immigration and Refugee Board). In addition, the CBSA supports the security screening process for temporary and permanent resident applicants and provides intelligence support to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada is responsible for processing applicants for temporary and permanent residence and for their settlement and integration in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada and the CBSA work together to maintain the integrity of the immigration program through the enhancement of screening tools, new controls and improved case management. Mutual priorities include irregular migration, admissibility and refugee determination issues, changes to visa requirements, international collaboration to facilitate removals, and the development of improved and integrated services for those crossing our borders. Moreover, there is a shared agenda to advance technological innovations that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations, both inland and at ports of entry.

Other federal partners

In addition to the above-noted organizations, the CBSA also collaborates closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Transport Canada, the Department of Finance Canada, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada , Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Health Canada, and the Communications Security Establishment. Collaborative efforts allow us to support one another to fulfil our respective mandates.

Law enforcement partnerships and other levels of government

In operational contexts, the CBSA collaborates with regional-level partners, including municipal and provincial police services, health and welfare agencies, and provincial correctional institutions. These partners support the enforcement of the various acts administered by the CBSA.

Key domestic stakeholders

In the context of an increasingly globalized world, there are a large number of CBSA domestic stakeholders. Associations and individuals engaged in the commercial trade, business, immigration, human and civil rights, and travel and tourism sectors represent specific needs and interests of the agency's clients and stakeholders. The CBSA works through a variety of fora to address concerns, and collaborates with external stakeholders when developing new policies and procedures.

Examples of key domestic stakeholders include:

  • Air: Air Transport Association of Canada, major Canadian airports
  • Land: Canadian Trucking Alliance, Railway Association of Canada, Bridge and Tunnel Owners Association
  • Marine: Association of Canadian Port Authorities, major Canadian ports
  • Import and Export: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Society of Customs Brokers, Shipping Federation of Canada, third party owner/operators of Port of Entry infrastructure
  • Refugees/Asylum: Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association, UNHCR Canada, Amnesty International

Stakeholder Consultative Committees: In addition to engaging individual stakeholders, the CBSA has two main consultative committees:

  • The Border Commercial Consultative Committee, which comprises (and impacts) commercial stakeholders such as carriers, brokers, importers, and freight forwarders, and is Canada's National Committee on Trade Facilitation under the World Trade Organization
  • The Air Consultative Committee, which includes airport authorities, airlines, and the CBSA. The Air Consultative Committee addresses issues in the air mode that impact the competitiveness of Canadian airports, and/or impact the ability of CBSA to fulfil its mandate

International partners

The International Strategic Framework guides the agency's international programs and partnerships. The agency is dependent on international partners to provide access to information, facilities and tools abroad to interdict inadmissible people and goods at the earliest point in the travel or commercial continuum, and to disrupt illicit border-related activity impacting Canada. These objectives are often achieved through the negotiation of international agreements (for example, Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements, Free Trade Agreements) and arrangements (for example, Memoranda of Understanding).

Multilateral Relations: The CBSA participates in a number of international fora that help guide and contribute to achieving its strategic goals. Five key international fora are highlighted below.

1) Five Country Ministerial:
The Five Country Ministerial is an annual meeting of the security and immigration ministers of the Five Eyes countries: Australia, Canada, New-Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Five Country Ministerial was created as the ministerial forum to discuss policies, operational approaches, and legal measures on a range of national security and public safety issues facing the Five Eyes partners. It also provides strategic direction to guide current and future cooperation; establishes a more integrated policy-making and planning structure; identifies gaps and opportunities for further collaboration; and improves accountability. Public Safety Canada is the lead department for the Five Country Ministerial on behalf of the Government of Canada and is supported by the CBSA and Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada.
2) Border Five:
The Border Five is a high-level forum for relevant agency heads from the Five Eyes to influence and shape border management discussions at an international level among advanced and trusted partners and to promote their common interest in border security, intelligence, economic prosperity, and trade and travel facilitation. In fall 2019, the Chair for Border Five came to the CBSA on behalf of Canada. Canada maintained the Chair for an additional year given the global pandemic situation. The United Kingdom assumed the Chair of the Border Five in late 2022. The U.S. will assume the Chair in late 2023.
3) Migration Five:
The CBSA actively participates in the Migration Five, along with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. The Migration Five is an international forum of immigration and border security agencies consisting of the Five Eyes. The forum shares best practices on information sharing, data, and intelligence to optimize immigration decision-making, attract and facilitate legitimate travellers, and deter and disrupt individuals who act in bad faith or deceptively. In fall 2019, the CBSA and Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada became Migration Five Co-Chairs on behalf of Canada, and maintained the Chair for an additional year given the global pandemic. Australia assumed the Chair of the Migration Five in late 2022. The U.S. will assume the Chair in late 2023.
4) World Customs Organization:
The World Customs Organization has 185 members, representing 98% of global trade. It acts as a United Nations-like organization exclusively focused on custom matters with various technical, policy and decision-making bodies. Canada is seen as a leader in the forum, as it collaborates with key partners and helps set and advance the global customs agenda in a manner aligned with the agency's and the Government of Canada's economic and security priorities, and in a way that supports World Customs Organization members.
5) Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation:
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is a multilateral forum aimed at facilitating free trade, regional economic integration, cooperation, and a sustainable business environment among the Asia-Pacific region. Canada is a founding member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and is currently the third largest contributor to its regular budget, which remains the only significant multilateral forum in the Asia-Pacific region in which Canada is engaged. While the Canadian engagement with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is led by Global Affairs Canada, the CBSA engages at the working level through various sub-fora, namely the Sub-Committee on Custom Procedures and the Digital Economy Steering Group. The U.S. is the current Chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation for 2023.

Bilateral Relations: In addition to participating in multilateral fora, the CBSA engages with key bilateral partners outside of the Five Eyes community to advance its international strategic objectives. The agency leverages relationships in key regions or countries to support and advance the CBSA's international objectives. This includes nurturing and developing international engagement with the United States, Mexico, the European Union, and European Union countries like France and Germany, and, Indo-Pacific countries.

United States:

Given the volume of travellers, goods and services that cross our shared border on a daily basis, and the importance of safety and security considerations associated with a shared border, the CBSA's relationship with its U.S. counterparts plays the most critical role amongst all of the agency's partners.

On Canada-U.S. border management issues, the CBSA engages primarily with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both of which are agencies under the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the U.S. Border Patrol, a component agency of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is responsible for patrolling the land border between designated ports of entry. This includes intercepting individuals seeking to enter the U.S. by irregular means, without presenting themselves at a port of entry.

The current Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is Troy A. Miller. Acting Commissioner Miller also served in this role from January to , during which time he made workforce resiliency a top priority.

Canada and the U.S. cooperate regularly through multiple bilateral fora, including, but not limited to:

  • The PM-POTUS commitments enhance Canada-U.S. collaboration on a number of key issues including joint actions to combat cross-border criminal activity, and efforts to combat the opioids and fentanyl crisis
  • The Canada-U.S. Opioids Action Plan addresses law enforcement, border security and health challenges
  • The Cross Border Crime Forum is a Minister-level meeting led by Public Safety and the Department of Justice, with U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice
  • The Cross Border Firearms Task Force is a CBSA and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations -led taskforce created through the CBCF, that seeks to disrupt firearms trafficking through joint initiatives and projects
  • The Joint Senior Executive Meeting is an annual DM-level meeting that serves as the primary agenda-setting forum for the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection executive teams to advance the Canada-U.S. border relationship

Mexico is a key strategic partner in the Americas, in multilateral fora, and on trilateral issues with the U.S. The CBSA and its partners in Mexico work on initiatives and programs to disrupt irregular migration, trade fraud, trade based money laundering and contraband smuggling into Canada.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the CBSA's main partner in Mexico, present in all our forums of engagement and acting as a single window into the rest of the Mexican government. On migration issues, our key interlocutor is the National Migration Institute (INM), under the Ministry of the Interior. On Customs issues, the CBSA collaborates closely with the National Customs Agency of Mexico. This new agency was officially created in by separating the General Customs Administration from the Tax Administration Service.

Canada and Mexico also meet twice a year through a forum entitled the High Level Dialogue on Mobility. The High Level Dialogue on Mobility serves as the main forum to discuss migration issues, with a view to promoting the sustainability of Canada's visa lift for Mexican citizens, as well as to exchange information and best practices on migration programs, migratory trends and strengthening regional and global cooperation to facilitate the mobility of people between Canada and Mexico.

Trilateral Relations:
In addition to Canada-Mexico bilateral forums, the two countries also participate in an annual trilateral forum that includes the United States. The North American Leaders Summit brings together leaders (the Prime Minister and Presidents) from Canada, Mexico and the United States to discuss North American issues and to find areas of cooperation and mutual interest. The North American Drug Dialogue, another annual trilateral forum, brings tougher each country's drug policy leaders, public health experts, and law enforcement officials to address collaboratively the many facets of the transnational drug crisis facing the continent. The Trilateral Fentanyl Committee, is a new trilateral forum. Canada's involvement in the Trilateral Fentanyl Committee is led by the National Security and Intelligence Advisor. The Trilateral Fentanyl Committee is tasked with developing deliverables in the areas of supply reduction, public health and private sector engagement.
The European Union:
The political, economic and customs union of the European Union constitutes a key strategic international partner across the spectrum of CBSA's mandate, including customs cooperation, border enforcement, and secure and facilitated trade. In addition, cooperation with the members of this supranational body in international engagement can often successfully provide CBSA with the benefit of influence multiplication, facilitating the agency's task in promoting Canada's interests. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, commonly referred to as Frontex, is the European Union's first uniformed law enforcement service. Frontex supports European Union Member States in the management of the European Union's external borders and the fight against cross-border crime, and is an important partner for the CBSA.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy:
The Indo-Pacific is becoming the global centre of economic dynamism and strategic challenge. This strategy is a comprehensive way forward to bolster our engagement in the Indo-Pacific over the next decade. There are five pillars to the strategy: promoting peace, resilience and security; expanding trade, investment and supply chain resilience; investing in and connecting people; building a sustainable and green future; Canada as an active and engaged partner to the Indo-Pacific. Although led by Global Affairs Canada, CBSA plays a critical role in regards to the security pillar. The agency will focus efforts to further mitigate the off-shore risks to Canada from this region as well as increase capacity building, diversify and enhance bilateral and multilateral engagements, and undertake new international agreements and arrangements related to information sharing and trusted trader programs in the Indo-Pacific region.

Advancing reconciliation

The Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) reconciliation work is guided by the Government of Canada's 44th Parliament Speech from the Throne, the Minister of Public Safety's mandate letter, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Department of Justice's Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 94 Calls to Action, the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls' 231 Calls to Justice, Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation, and modern and historic Treaty obligations.

The CBSA has undertaken a comprehensive and transformative approach to Reconciliation, as defined in the Indigenous Framework and Strategy, approved by the Executive Committee in 2018 and stewarded by the Indigenous Affairs Secretariat. The Framework and Strategy direct the CBSA to become a leading organization that engages, respects, cooperates and partners with Indigenous Peoples in providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities and that facilitate the free flow of admissible people and goods.

The CBSA Policy on the Agency's Relationship with Indigenous Peoples was implemented across the agency on . The Policy provides guidance on how CBSA staff will interact with Indigenous Peoples.

The CBSA builds Indigenous cultural competency through experiential, in-person and online learning opportunities. The CBSA has launched Indigenous courses for frontline CBSA staff, co-developed Akwesasne Awareness Training, offered KAIROS blanket exercises, facilitated several Indigenous sacred bundle presentations, and opened an Elder's Room and reflections spaces at the CBSA College in Rigaud. The CBSA also leads a public service-wide Indigenous Training and Development Community of Practice and is co-leading development of an online Indigenous knowledge portal and a Policy on Indigenous Learning.

CBSA has taken action to address the findings of the "Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation" report coming out of a gathering within the agency. Examples include providing Indigenous employees with second language training priority, piloting culturally inclusive language training for Indigenous employees, and undertaking a design thinking exercise to prioritize more initiatives.

Jay Treaty Border Alliance Collaboration Initiative

The Jay Treaty Border Alliance is composed of a number of First Nations in Canada as well as Tribes from the US. The collaboration was created to support Indigenous border mobility and is advancing work through technical tables with federal officials on border crossing experience; right of entry; entry of goods; and identification and travel documents. The Minister of Public Safety co-convenes the High Table with Grand Chief Abram Benedict, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and Grand Chief Sky Deer, Kahnawake and includes Ministers responsible for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship and Crown Indigenous Relations.

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne–CBSA Border Collaboration Initiative

This is a Nation-to-Nation partnership between CBSA and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne designed to co-develop solutions to the unique and complex border challenges in the Cornwall-Akwesasne area. It includes five Working Circles, a Governance Circle and a Leaders Circle.

Preclearance Feasibility Studies

The 2017 Minister's Special Representatives Report on Border Crossing Issues identified challenges with the locations of the Ports of Entry at Cornwall, ON and Beaver Creek, YT given their significant distance from the actual border. The location of each port of entry results in Indigenous community members traveling between traditional and/or reserve territories being required to report to CBSA despite not having left Canada.

The CBSA has received Ministerial approval to conduct consultations and feasibility assessments with existing resources to explore the viability of preclearance operations in the United States for both ports of entry.

Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

On , the act received Royal Assent in Canada, affirming the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an international human rights instrument that can help interpret and apply Canadian law. The CBSA and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada co-developed language for Action Plan Measure 52 with Indigenous partners and organizations. and articulated a commitment to collaboratively pursue legislative amendments to expand the right of entry to Canada.

On , the government's 2023 to 2028 Action Plan to implement the United Nations Declaration was released. In order to implement Action Plan Measure 52, the CBSA and IRCC are planning nation wide consultations beginning in Fall 2023. Government officials will meet with Indigenous partners and organizations to learn about Indigenous border mobility concerns, discuss options on right of entry legislative amendments, and commence solution-based conversations for complex border crossing issues.

Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination Tables

Currently, CBSA maintains an active presence on multiple negotiation tables at which border crossing matters are a topic of discussion, including, but not limited to, the White River First Nation, Pacheedaht First Nation, Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, and WSÁNEĆ. CBSA also provides subject matter expertise on border crossing concerns as appropriate for self-government agreement negotiations.

Labour relations

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) is responsible for all collective bargaining within the core public administration (including the CBSA) and ensures the renewal of 27 collective agreements through negotiations with 15 bargaining agents.

Treasury Board is also responsible for providing advice on collective bargaining and for supporting federal departments and other portions of the core public administration in interpreting collective agreements.

The CBSA's workforce has membership in five of the 15 bargaining agents, broken down as follows:

  1. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is the largest union covering federal public servants and represents 14,577 CBSA employees, including 10,853 in the Frontière‑Border (FB) classification. While the CBSA is the only employer representative at the Frontière‑Border negotiating table, it is not represented at the other Public Service Alliance of Canada - Treasury Board bargaining tables

    All collective agreements with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, with the exception of the Frontière‑Border group, have been ratified and will expire in 2025. The Frontière‑Border group collective agreement expired on . Notice to bargain was served by the Bargaining Agent on and the parties exchanged proposals on and . The parties continue to negotiate and are scheduled to meet in September, October, and November to continue discussions.

  2. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) represents 1207 CBSA employees. All Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada collective agreements are valid and set to expire in 2022 with the exception of the Computer Systems (CS) group, expired . The CBSA has an employer seat at this negotiating table
  3. The Association of Canadian Financial Officers (ACFO) represents 272 CBSA employees. A collective agreement is in place and will expire
  4. The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) represents 457 CBSA employees. A collective agreement is in place and will expire
  5. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents 13 CBSA employees. A collective agreement is in place and will expire
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