August 2, 2021
Be careful – bigger brother is watching.
Blacklock’s Reporter says a third of Canadians are wary of a little-known federal program to monitor border travelers for tax compliance.
Research by the Canada Border Services Agency found only 26% of people surveyed were “very comfortable” with the collection of more personal information.
“In order to continue to fulfil its mandate to Canadians and prepare for future challenges it is essential for the Agency to understand Canadians’ knowledge, awareness, perceptions and behaviour related to both the Agency and the border crossing experience,” said an Agency report.
The CBSA on June 10 confirmed the opening an Office of Biometrics to track travelers and share information with federal agencies for enforcement of Employment Insurance regulations and the Income Tax Act. Monitoring would occur through computer chips embedded in passports.
Asked, “Many countries are exploring the use of new technologies to facilitate border crossings. While these new technologies can offer ease and convenience, they also collect more personal information for border authorities. To what extent do you feel comfortable with more personal information being collected by the Agency in order to facilitate a smoother border crossing?” a total 32% said they were uncomfortable with data collection.
Opposition was highest in Québec at 36%, followed by respondents in British Columbia (34%), Ontario (32%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (31%), Atlantic Canada (29%) and Alberta (26%).
An estimated 22.9 million Canadians currently hold passports. The number of drivers and air passengers crossing the border averages 300,000 a day, by official estimate.
Cabinet on July 10, 2019 approved Exit Information Regulations allowing the CBSA to compile data on border travelers to catch tax evaders, Employment Insurance recipients who are supposed to be available for work, and snowbirds claiming Old Age Security benefits.
“The Canada Border Services Agency lacks exit information on Canadian citizens,” wrote staff.
“Without this, the travel history information for travelers crossing Canada’s borders remains incomplete.”
The Exit Information Regulations, the first of their kind, take effect in 2028. The cost of the surveillance program was estimated at $15.7 million annually. Data on travelers would be stored for fifteen years.