Let CBSA patrol the border between legal ports of entry, says union

With the temporary protected status program ending in the U.S., the union representing the CBSA wants the federal government to allow officers to patrol the Canada-U.S. border between legal ports of entry.

National president of the union representing CBSA says there may be a problem at the border next year

Ontario wants the federal government to compensate the province and municipalities for costs associated with people who cross the border illegally. (CBC)

The union representing the Canadian Border Services Agency wants to see officers get the authority to patrol the border between legal ports of entry.

National president of Customs and Immigration Union Jean-Pierre Fortin said it'll "maintain a certain level of security," rather than only relying on the RCMP, which currently looks after those sections of the border.

Right now, managing asylum seekers crossing the Canada-U.S. border is doable, but Fortin said once the temporary protected status program ends next September in the U.S., things will change.

"That's where we may encounter some problems next summer," he said.

The program allowed those affected by major natural disasters to stay in the U.S.

His reasoning for creating a sort of border patrol — albeit not at the level of what the U.S. has — is that the RCMP are like the OPP in that they are quite busy and not dedicated exclusively to protecting the border.

"They don't have the dedicated resources at the border to make sure that the level of security is being addressed properly," said Fortin.

His suggestion comes at a time when the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services wants the federal government to compensate Ontario and municipalities for costs associated with illegal border crossings.

Jean-Pierre Fortin, National President of the Customs and Immigration Union, says CBSA officers should have the authority to patrol the border in between legal ports of entry.

"In Toronto, approximately 40 per cent of shelter occupants are refugees," said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, in a statement Thursday.

"We pride ourselves on being a welcoming province for all newcomers to Canada," she said.

"However, we have been clear from the very beginning that when our social services experience this type of pressure, our commitment is to refugees and asylum seekers who have entered Canada legally, and to individuals who permanently reside in our province."

Fortin said recently the federal government committed additional money to the CBSA, but he doesn't know where the money has gone.

"We're really hopeful that it's going to be by hiring more officers, to make sure that we will be able to have sufficient amount of people to process these asylum seekers," he said.

With files from Chris Ensing