CBSA: Funding cuts won’t affect Grand Forks

Grand Forks will not be affected by budget cuts to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced by the federal government recently.

Grand Forks will not be affected by budget cuts to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced by the federal government last month.

The Midway Dominion Street/Ferry border also won’t be effected.

CBSA will see a $143.4 million cut to its current budget.

Esme Bailey, senior media spokesperson for CBSA, pointed out the reduction in staff will not affect those working at ports of entry.

“Most of the surplus positions identified are found through streamlining internal services in national headquarters,” she said in an email.

Bailey stated that the CBSA has already issued affected letters to approximately 1,150 employees, though it doesn’t necessarily mean they have been laid off.

“An affected employee is an employee that sits in a position: a) that has been identified for elimination, or b) within a larger group of positions similar or identical to ones identified for elimination,” she explained. “Based on current estimates, which may change due to actual numbers versus forecast attrition rates, the agency expects that approximately 250 CBSA employees will lose their jobs within the agency.”

As far as B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko is aware, only one position has been cut in Osoyoos.

“So far there’s nothing that leads me to believe they will cut more. We haven’t heard of any definite job losses yet, so we’re hoping it stays that way,” he pointed out. “We hope that no news is good news.”

Bailey noted that the CBSA has reviewed its spending, focusing on operational costs and plans to deliver $143.3 million in ongoing savings by 2014-2015.

“The CBSA is confident that it will make the necessary contribution to reduce the deficit while minimizing negative impacts on services for Canadians and on its employees.”

In terms of safety and security at the border, Bailey noted that the health and safety of Canadians would not be compromised through the implementation of any of these budget reduction initiatives.

“The CBSA remains committed to its relationship with domestic and international partners, and will continue to collaborate and liaise with them regularly,” she said. “There will be little to no impact on front line services for travellers and traders who are crossing our borders.”

In a media release, Atamanenko stated, “These cuts could end up costing Canadians more than they save.”

Atamanenko has spent time at several border crossings and has an appreciation for the work that the officers at the border do.

“They turn back illegal weapons, keep drugs and criminals out of our country and collect the necessary duties that protect Canadian businesses and supplement our tax base,” he said in the release. “To be faced with a reduction of personnel at our border crossings is ludicrous. It seems a contradiction to the government’s so-called tough-on-crime focus. Let’s also not forget that border service officers and their families help contribute to the local economies of our rural communities.”

Grand Forks is located near two border crossings: the Carson/Danville border in the west and the Cascade/Laurier border just before Christina Lake.