Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting us to appear before you today.
I understand that we are your first witnesses—let's say your first guests—and we're here to present you with an overview of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which we refer to as the Department of Public Safety.
I'm going to talk about public safety and our structure, our role, and some of our priorities. I am joined by my colleagues from the five branches within the department, and I will be introducing them as I go through my comments.
Broadly speaking, Public Safety's mandate is to keep Canadians safe from a vast array of threats, including natural disasters, crime, and terrorism.
The department was established in 2003 to ensure coordination among the federal departments and agencies that deal with national security, emergency management, law enforcement, corrections, crime prevention, cybersecurity, and border security issues.
The department is one of six organizations that constitute the public safety portfolio, all of which report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Mr. Goodale.
The portfolio at large is considerable in size and scope. It has more than 65,800 full-time equivalents, our employees, and it has an operating budget in 2015-16 of $8.5 billion.
Later today or soon after, I believe, and next week, you'll have an opportunity to hear in depth from each agency, but I'll briefly list the key mandates of each. We have the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, which manages our national borders and supports legitimate cross-border trade and travel. We have the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, which protects Canada's national security interests by investigating and reporting on activities that may pose a threat to our security. There is the Correctional Service of Canada, which is the federal agency responsible for administering sentences with terms of two years or more, which also supervises offenders under conditional release in the community. There is the Parole Board of Canada, which is an independent administrative tribunal that makes decisions on conditional release and records suspensions as well as making clemency recommendations. Last, there is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which enforces laws, prevents and investigates crimes of all types, and helps maintain peace, order, and security here and abroad as part of our international deployments.
There are also three review bodies that play a key role in accountability and review functions related to the work of their respective agencies, and these are the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, and the RCMP External Review Committee.
Allow me now to shift to the Department of Public Safety itself and some of our work. As of December 2015, we had 991 indeterminate and term employees. The budget approved in the 2015-16 main estimates and supplementary estimates to date is $1.14 billion, and we manage a substantial grants and contributions program with close to $1 billion budgeted for this fiscal year alone.
The vast scope of the department's work means that we have employees working in every part of the country and around the world.
This includes regional offices in Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut, the Atlantic region, the Prairies, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and the Yukon. These offices help us deliver on key priorities like first nations policing, crime prevention and emergency management.
I will now talk about the major program areas and priorities found within the department itself.
Here with me we have Monik Beauregard, who's our senior ADM for national and cybersecurity. The department works to deliver on the government's priorities related to national and cybersecurity. We're developing legislation and policies to keep Canadians safe from terrorist acts and to improve accountability and oversight of our national security agencies. We're working to create an office dedicated to countering radicalization to violence, and we're reviewing and strengthening Canada's cybersecurity strategy to build resilient cyber-networks and create cyber-savvy citizens.
Our ADM, Lori MacDonald, at the emergency management and programs branch, couldn't be here today but she is ably represented here by Craig Oldham, who manages our government operations centre, which I'll talk about in a moment. Emergency management is a significant portion of the work we do at Public Safety Canada. For example, we manage the disaster financial assistance arrangements or the DFAA program, which provides financial support to provinces and territories in the wake of significant natural disasters like floods and wildfires. Recognizing the increasing risk and costs of disasters, the department runs the national disaster mitigation program and this program fills a critical gap in Canada's ability to effectively mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from flood-related events. These are the four pillars of emergency management.
We're also supporting the government's efforts to help first responders and public safety officers coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, or occupational stress injuries. This includes holding national consultations and developing a national action plan. As mentioned, the department also houses the government operations centre—I mentioned Craig—which coordinates the integrated federal response to human-induced and natural events of all types. Also, quite recently we assumed responsibility for the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, which used to be part of the National Defence portfolio.
We also have here Kathy Thompson, who is our ADM responsible for community safety and countering crime. Public Safety provides federal policy leadership, coordination, and program support for issues related to crime prevention and law enforcement. We work with the United States and the CBSA to secure our borders while encouraging trade and travel through the beyond the border action plan. We ensure that effective policy and legislative frameworks are in place to support the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies in order to combat serious and organized crimes like drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, child sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
We support indigenous communities that seek to reduce violence against women and to develop community safety plans that are culturally relevant. Through the first nations policing program we also provide funding to many communities for access to professional, dedicated, and culturally appropriate policing services. We support crime prevention programs through the national crime prevention strategy, and finally, we review key aspects of the criminal justice system, including record suspensions, parole, segregation in correctional institutions, and improving the use of restorative justice approaches.
Now I would like to introduce Paul McKinnon, assistant deputy minister of the portfolio affairs and communications branch.
Strategic policy and planning integration within the department falls under the portfolio affairs and communications branch. Through this work, we engage and consult with stakeholders and citizens, notably through the cross-cultural round table on security.
We push forward on a significant research agenda and partner with academics, including the Kanishka program, which supports research into understanding and addressing terrorism threats in a Canadian context.
In terms of corporate management, also present on this panel is our chief financial officer and assistant deputy minister of the corporate management branch. This is Mark Perlman. That branch is responsible for financial and human resources management, procurement and asset management, as well as information management and information technology.
I trust this gives you a good overview of our department, the portfolio agencies, and some of our top priorities, and as well introduces you to some of our senior officials who you will likely come to know over the upcoming months. I look forward to the discussion and answering questions that you may have.
Thank you, merci, and meegwetch.
I want to begin by echoing a lot of the thanks that have been provided to you, Ms. Wilson, and to the rest of your colleagues and the panel. I think we all appreciate that in most regards you are both the first and the last line of defence for Canada, and we thank you for your efforts every day.
I'd like to ask you a general question about where we are with Canada's cybersecurity strategy. Canadians' personal and professional lives have gone digital. We use the Internet, we use email, and we use texting. Some of our friends in the press gallery like to use Twitter. I see Mr. Akin nodding his head back there. We do business, shopping, research, and education online.
Business uses cyberspace not only for transactional purposes, but also for research and development. They use it to protect their patents. Government needs to use cyberspace and the digital space for the entire array of services it provides Canadians and also for its own internal governance. Whether it's in immigration, health, public safety, or national security, digital makes all this possible.
There are a lot of advantages to that. On a very practical level, we have people who can telework. It allows us to shrink distances between point A and point B. It allows us to stay connected. But there are also some things we have to be mindful of. The fact that we are now so invested in cyberspace can make us vulnerable. Whether it's with respect to criminal fraudsters.... For example, I recently met with a fairly well-known business called “Canada Goose”. Some of you may wear their products, especially with the arctic freeze and the record snowfall we recently had. They're concerned about fraud and protecting their brand.
Whether we're concerned about foreign radical elements recruiting, as we've heard about, or whether we're concerned about hackers, about non-state entities like WikiLeaks, which are constantly trying to prod and test our systems and which sometimes succeed, regrettably, there are risks everywhere. My question is, where are we at with Canada's cyber-strategy, and what are your top two concerns in terms of our risk assessment?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon everybody.
I am pleased to appear before this committee to provide an overview of the Canada Border Services Agency and outline some of our key priorities.
My name is Nada Semaan and I'm the executive vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency. I'm joined today by two members of our senior management team, Mr. Martin Bolduc, our vice-president of programs branch and Ms. Caroline Xavier, our vice-president of operations.
We have prepared a brief overview presentation for the committee's reference and will be happy to answer your questions.
In particular, Mr. Chair, we look forward to working with the members of this committee as you move forward on your mandate. The Canada Border Services Agency was established in December 2003. Its creation integrated border functions related to customs, immigration, enforcement, and food, plant, and animal inspection.
Today we are the second-largest law enforcement organization in the country.
While the environment in which we operate continues to evolve, the CBSA's dual mandate remains the same. We support both national security and economic prosperity by preventing the entry of those travellers or goods posing a potential threat to Canada while at the same time facilitating the flow of people and legitimate goods across the borders.
The Canada Border Services Agency Act is our enabling legislation. It sets out the responsibilities, mandate, powers, and duties of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as well as those of the president. We administer and enforce the Customs Act, which outlines our responsibilities to collect duties and taxes on imported goods, interdict illegal goods, and administer trade legislation and agreements.
With Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, we share responsibility for administering the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, also known as IRPA. IRPA governs both the admissibility of people into Canada and the identification, detention, and removal of those deemed to be inadmissible under the act.
Finally, the agency enforces over 90 other statutes on behalf of federal departments and agencies.
To support this work, the agency has a total budget in 2015-16 of approximately $1.87 billion. Most of this budget covers operating expenditures required for ongoing border management. Included in this amount, the agency was allocated $223 million for investments in information technology and ports of entry, as well as $182 million for employee benefit plans.
We are a big operation and we function 24-7, 365 days a year. Our workforce of 14,000 employees includes approximately 6,700 uniformed border service officers who operate across Canada at airports, marine ports, land ports of entry, and remote border crossings, as well as overseas.
Our staff are proud and professional, and take their responsibilities seriously.
We have shared with the committee some presentation slides that give a sense of our operating environment, in order to highlight the important role the agency plays in supporting Canada's security and prosperity both at home and abroad.
You'll also see that we shared with you a little handy cheat sheet that shows that we processed last year approximately 97.5 million travellers who entered Canada, which means that the agency processed over 260,000 travellers on an average day.
One-third of these travellers arrived by air and close to two-thirds, by land.
We processed tens of millions of commercial shipments. In terms of trade between Canada and the United States alone, the CBSA facilitated approximately $1.4 million in goods every minute last year.
We collected about $29 billion in duties and taxes, which accounts for 10% of the Government of Canada's revenues.
We made over 8,000 drug seizures worth over $400 million; 7,400 weapons and firearms seizures; and 43,000 seizures of prohibited food, plants, and animals.
Finally, we removed over 11,000 individuals who were deemed inadmissible to Canada.
The CBSA is the first point of contact for travellers and goods arriving to Canada. We are, in effect, the face of Canada.
As such, underpinning our efforts is a strong commitment to service excellence rooted in our core values of integrity, respect, and professionalism. For travellers and trade partners, our goal is to help them reach their destination with minimal interventions. For importers and exporters, we want to ensure that appropriate regulations and laws are applied and that duties and taxes are collected.
We publish and report on our service standards on our website. There are a variety of internal and external complaint and redress mechanisms available for both the public and businesses.
Our work is organized along four major business lines, plus the internal services that are required to support the agency. First is the traveller program, which aims at facilitating the flow of admissible travellers. The commercial and trade program concentrates on the importation and export of commercial goods. The enforcement and intelligence program identifies high risks and targets before people and goods enter Canada, enforces customs and immigration laws, and pursues criminal prosecution. The border services management program involves the development of our frontline border service officer workforce, our supporting infrastructure, and our innovation in science and engineering.
Internal services refers to the information technology and corporate processes that support our business.
Border management is increasingly complex and requires global co-operation. By 2025 it is expected that global trade, the flow of goods and services and finance, will be worth approximately $85 trillion dollars. Up to 50% of the world's GDP is based on trade, with most growth expected in emerging economies. Trade flows and what we do at the border impact Canada's GDP.
At the same time, we must keep pace with emerging security risks like cyber-attacks, and improve our security monitoring to detect, for example, synthetic designer drugs, or insects and organisms that could compromise our food supply or our natural environment.
Organized cross-border crime is increasingly networked and tech-savvy, which demands vigilance.
The effects of the global refugee crisis led last year to the largest mass migration since World War II, and one that the agency has been particularly involved in with the screening and admission of 25,000 Syrian refugees. At the same time, we work with global and domestic partners in countering or preventing a range of threats, be they posed by organized crime, human smugglers, terrorists, or global human and/or animal health.
Partnerships are key to our agency's effectiveness.
Naturally, we work closely with our Government of Canada partners—most closely with other agencies in the public safety portfolio, who you will be hearing from next week.
We also have strong working relationships with provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies across the country.
We consult frequently with airport and bridge authorities, where there is significant interest in working with us to modernize infrastructure.
Industry stakeholders as well, such as the Business Council of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, as well as the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance, and the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region are all key interlocutors and important partners in our modernization efforts. Internationally we have an important relationship with the United States for both security and economic prosperity. The CBSA also works mostly with the Department of Homeland Security and its constituent parts, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
We have a growing relationship with Mexico, where there is an opportunity to expand co-operation in areas such as trusted travellers.
The CBSA also participates in an intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We engage with these countries bilaterally and in different fora on border, trade, and security issues. We also play a constructive role through the World Customs Organization to work with large trading partners and with developing countries to promote common approaches and facilitate global trade flows.
Mr. Chair, I'm nearing the end of my presentation. I would end my opening remarks and conclude with a few words about some of our key priorities to improve border management.
We take pride in the agency's contribution to the whole-of-government effort to help resettle Syrian refugees. Over 21,000 refugees have arrived in Canada to date. The CBSA has been a key player, both through overseas security screening and through the processing of newcomers upon landing.
We continue to help strengthen trilateral North American co-op eration with the United States and Mexico.
This includes working in areas that improve border security while supporting trade and facilitating the movement of people. The CBSA continues to innovate in order to better serve clients and modernize border efficiency and security. To this end, we have a number of transformative information technology projects under way.
Finally, we are making a significant effort to upgrade more than 70 land ports of entry located across the country.
For these reasons, Mr. Chair, it is truly a rewarding and exciting time to be working at the Canada Border Services Agency.
I do thank you for your attention while I went through our processes. My colleagues and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good afternoon, Ms. Semaan.
I would like to begin by echoing the comments of my colleague Mr. Spengemann, when he welcomed the previous witnesses to the committee. I want to thank you very much for the work that you and your thousands of colleagues do every day. We are extremely grateful.
You made an important point. You and your colleagues are the first point of contact for travellers arriving to Canada. You even called yourselves the face of Canada.
Two things concern me, so I'd like to discuss them in order to get some clarification from you. I'm referring to best practices and a review process. Allow me to explain.
Canada sees itself as a friendly and welcoming country, and that idea is founded on two important elements. The first is that it reflects Canada's true identity. It's in our nature as Canadians to be warm and welcoming. Clearly, then, that's the image the country wants to project. Second, a very important practical consideration comes into play. By being a welcoming country, we will attract more people. It improves our capacity to attract the best immigrants, the best tourists and the best partners in business.
Now I'm getting to my point. I mentioned best practices and review. Is there a review mechanism in place to ensure that, physically and materially, officers present themselves in the best manner possible when a traveller arrives at Canada's borders?
As far as best practices go, we pay attention to how we stack up against other countries. We have all travelled to other countries and noticed that the material manner in which officers present themselves differs from country to country. Officers who welcome people to Canada look a certain way. The way they present themselves materially is comparable to that of the U.S., for instance. But when we travel to countries such as China or Israel, which do, after all, have major concerns around security, we can see that the way in which their officers present themselves is entirely different. And that outward presentation can deter ill-intentioned people.
In other words, we want to attract tourists and business people and we want them to have a positive image of Canada.
Do you have some sort of review mechanism to ensure that the outward presentation of our officers is in line with best practices around the world?
First of all, we have scenario-based targeting systems we're looking at that allow us to look at screening indicators to identify higher risk, whether it be travellers or cargo. That's a new tool that has been helping us.
In terms of our transformation, I could probably break it down better from a traveller perspective and then from a commercial perspective, in terms of how we're facilitating.
On the traveller side, things such as the NEXUS program, which you're very aware of I'm sure, actually help us pre-screen, identify risks, and allow us to facilitate travellers a lot more.
On the commercial side, we have things such as the single window initiative, which is basically an automated.... Previously if somebody wanted to bring goods, they needed to let us know. They would have to apply to, potentially, the CFIA and a number of our colleague departments. Now they can go through one department and identify all their requirements and get the regulatory requirements done once.
We have a trusted trader program as well, which allows us, again, to pre-screen trading and allows us to facilitate. Other programs that we're working on are enhanced facilities for trusted programs as well. The radio frequency identification initiative basically allows people with the radio frequency identification card to be able to...such as a NEXUS. When you're at a land border, if you scan it through, we get the information right away, so that by the time you've driven through we have the information on the screen, allowing you to be processed quicker.
Also on the commercial side, we have our e-manifest—
I could go on and on, so I guess I should stop.
We have also our e-manifest solution, which will allow us to pre-look at cargo before it comes here and risk-assess it. It allows cargo to then move a lot faster from a trade perspective.