Published:June 11, 2021
The largest surveillance scheme in the country’s history is underway, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed it’s opening an Office of Biometrics and use computer chips embedded in new passports to monitor every citizen who travels out of Canada.
“Future initiatives will include a consent-based model to ensure travelers understand how their information is collected, used, retained and disclosed,” said Louis-Carl Brissette Lesage, spokesman for the CBSA.
Costs were not disclosed.
The Agency in a June 5 Notice Of Proposed Procurement said it had an “urgent need” to hire consultants “in researching, planning for and rapidly developing a strategy” to enforce its biometrics program.
An estimated 22.9 million Canadians currently hold passports, typically traditional paper documents valid for five years. Cabinet in 2004 approved new ePassports with an embedded computer chip containing users’ names, birth dates, gender and photographs. The ePassports were introduced in 2012 as an optional 10-year document at higher cost.
Lesage declined comment when asked if chip-embedded passports would become mandatory and Passport Canada in a statement said traditional paper documents “will still be valid until they expire.”
“As the border is eventually reopened it is expected the flow of international travel will return to pre-pandemic levels,” said Lesage.
“As the traveler volume returns, it will be important the Agency has processes in place.”
In a little-noticed July 10, 2019 order, Cabinet approved a data scoop on every Canadian who crosses the border, some 300,000 drivers and air passengers a day, to catch Employment Insurance scofflaws, tax evaders and snowbirds claiming Old Age Security benefits.
Monitoring of Canadian citizens leaving the country that way takes effect in 2028. It will cost $15.7 million a year. All information on travelers will be stored in an electronic database for 15 years.
“The Canada Border Services Agency lacks exit information on Canadian citizens,” wrote staff.