An American proposal to charge travellers a new fee at land border crossings is drawing condemnation in both countries.

Michael MacKenzie, of the Canadian Snowbird Association, says Washington is trying to ease its "desperate financial situation" on the backs of Canadian travellers.

MacKenzie says travellers already pay tolls and other costs when travelling to or from the U.S.

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Shoppers line up at the Pacific Border Crossing in Surrey, B.C. on Boxing Day in 2012. A U.S. Homeland Security budget request is asking for consideration of a crossing fee that could be added to existing tolls. (CBC)

The proposal to study a new fee is in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's budget for 2014.

The department argues it needs the money to defray increasing security costs. The budget request says the study should consider a fee that could be added to existing tolls or to ticket prices for those arriving by bus or train.

According to the request, the study should include:

  • The feasibility of collecting from existing operators on the land border, such as bridge commissions, toll operators, commercial passenger bus and commercial passenger rail.
  • Requirements to collect at land ports of entry where existing capability is not present.
  • Any legal and regulatory impediments to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee.

The budget doesn't suggest how much the fee would be. The study is to be completed within nine months.

At least one American border politician has denounced the idea as a barrier to economic growth.

With files from CBC News