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Message from the Minister

The Honourable Peter Van Loan, P.C., M.P. Minister of Public SafetyAs Minister of Public Safety, I am pleased to present to Parliament the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) 2008–09 Departmental Performance Report.

The CBSA marked its fifth anniversary as Canada's integrated border management agency in 2008. It continues to effectively deliver border programs while advancing operational, technological and legislative initiatives to help secure the border and facilitate legitimate trade and travel. The Agency also strengthened its enforcement posture by improving its intelligence gathering and analysis capacity, in part by broadening the overseas risk assessment of travellers and cargo bound for Canada.

The CBSA retained its leading-edge position in technological innovation, which encompasses electronic advance information systems in the commercial import stream, biometrics to identify trusted travellers in our NEXUS program and detection technologies for examining cargo containers and conveyances. These technologies include radiation detection systems that were recently implemented at the five major marine container ports.

In Parliament, Bill S-2, which has now received royal assent, brought about amendments to the Customs Act to enhance the CBSA's ability to interdict contraband and other illegal items in customs controlled areas, such as on airport tarmacs and seaport docks. Bill S-2 will also enable the CBSA to implement eManifest, the third phase of our Advance Commercial Information initiative. In addition, the Agency continued progress towards the Government of Canada's commitment to arm officers and eliminate work-alone sites, and to provide greater protection to border services officers and those engaged in specialized enforcement activities within Canada.

The CBSA is still growing and evolving, and it is making the changes required to remain nimble and focused in a dynamic global environment. I am proud of the professional, service-oriented manner with which some 14,000 individuals balance border security and accessibility. I remain confident that they will use this same approach to meet future challenges.

The original version was signed by the Honourable Peter Van Loan, P.C., M.P. Minister of Public Safety.

Section I: Departmental Overview

Raison d'être and Responsibilities

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides integrated border services that support national security priorities and facilitate the free flow of people and goods, including food, plants and animals, across the border. Specific responsibilities include the following:

  • administering legislation (over 90 acts) that governs the admissibility of people, goods and plants and animals into and out of Canada;
  • detaining those people who may pose a threat to Canada;
  • identifying and removing people who are inadmissible to Canada, including those involved in terrorism, organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanity;
  • interdicting illegal goods entering or leaving the country;
  • protecting food safety, plant and animal health, and Canada's resource base;
  • promoting Canadian business and economic benefits by administering trade legislation and trade agreements to meet Canada's international obligations, including the enforcement of trade remedies that help protect Canadian industry from the injurious effects of dumped and subsidized imported goods;
  • administering a fair and impartial redress mechanism; and
  • collecting applicable duties and taxes on imported goods.

Created in 2003, the CBSA is an integral part of the Public Safety portfolio that is responsible for integrated national security, emergency management, law enforcement, corrections, crime prevention and border management operations.

Examples of Acts Administered by the CBSA

  • Agriculture and Agri-food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act
  • Canada Border Services Agency Act
  • Citizenship Act
  • Criminal Code
  • Customs Act
  • Excise Act
  • Excise Tax Act
  • Export and Import Permits Act
  • Food and Drugs Act
  • Health of Animals Act
  • Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • Plant Protection Act
  • Special Import Measures Act

CBSA Service Locations

The CBSA provides services at approximately 1,200 service points across Canada and at some international locations, including the following: 

  • 119 land border crossings
  • 27 rail sites
  • 14 international airports
  • 436 small vessel marina reporting sites
  • 12 ferry terminals
  • 87 customs warehouses
  • 3 postal processing plants
  • 3 detention facilities
  • 45 international locations staffed with migration integrity officers
  • 3 major port facilities

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

Flow Chart: Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture


Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome
Operational Priorities Type and Status Link to Strategic Outcome:
Border management that contributes to the safety and security of Canada and facilitates the flow of persons and goods.

Effective delivery of programs and services

The CBSA will continue to increase its ability to identify and interdict people and goods of high or unknown risk while expediting the flow of low-risk people and goods.


Mostly met


The CBSA improved its capacity to identify and intercept people and goods of high or unknown risk before and at the border, which contributes to the safety and security of Canada. Enhancing the Agency's capacity to identify, assess and mitigate the risks posed by people and goods is a continuing priority for 2009–10, notably by optimizing the CBSA's intelligence function and plans to enhance targeting.

Innovating for the border of the future

The CBSA will continue to develop and implement leading-edge border management processes and technologies that improve Canada's border security and economic prosperity.


Mostly met


The CBSA advanced several projects that will leverage technology to expedite border clearance, thereby facilitating the flow of low-risk people and goods. In addition, improvements to the Agency's automated risk assessment systems (e.g. TITAN) have increased the Agency's ability to assess, identify and mitigate potential threats and risks before these risks reach the physical border. Improving the efficiency of border operations through the increased use of information technology will continue to be a priority in 2009–10, notably by developing systems for the electronic collection of trade data (e.g. eManifest) and implementing the Automated Border Clearance pilot project.

Strong internal and external relationships

The CBSA will continue to improve its capacity to work effectively with all partners, stakeholders, clients and employees.


Mostly met


The Agency enhanced the effectiveness of its relationships with key international partners in border management by successfully proposing the realignment of key bilateral and group mechanisms (e.g. with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) to a more strategic and proactive level. In 2009–10, the Agency will improve information sharing with these partners, particularly the United States to improve border security. In addition, the Agency will complete major reviews of its organizational culture and branding, which are key elements to improve relationships with stakeholders and employees.

Management Priorities Type and Status Link to Strategic Outcome:
Border management that contributes to the safety and security of Canada and facilitates the flow of persons and goods.

A modern management regime

The CBSA will continue to practice results-based management, deliver value for money and monitor progress through regular assessments.


Mostly met


The Agency strengthened its risk management and human resources planning functions, which will provide additional and more accurate information to support resource allocation decisions that will best achieve the Agency's strategic outcome. Improving performance measurement and implementing integrated risk management will be continuing priorities in 2009–10.


Total Financial and Human Resources

Table 1.1: Total Financial Resources for 2008–09

$ thousands

Financial Resources 2008–09

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
1,508,942 1,856,814 1,647,636

Table 1.2: Total Human Resources for 2008–09

Full-time equivalents

Human Resources 2008–09







There was a $209 million difference between total authorities and actual spending. The $147 million lapse in operating expenditures was related mainly to project delays associated with eManifest, the arming of CBSA officers, the Container Security Initiative and the procurement of specialty equipment, such as radiation detection equipment. The $62 million lapse in capital expenditures was related mainly to delays in infrastructure projects at the CBSA Learning Centre in Rigaud, Quebec, and at smaller ports of entry requiring facility upgrades to end work-alone situations, and to delays in the procurement of specialty equipment.

Strategic Outcome: Border management that contributes to the safety and security of Canada and facilitates the flow of persons and goods
Performance Indicator 2008–09 Performance Performance Trend
Number of people processed

The total number of people processed in 2008–09 declined by 5.67 percent as compared to 2007–08 (96,491,015 people processed).

The most significant decline was observed in the rail mode in which the number of people processed declined by 9.48 percent as compared to 2007–08 (282,368 people processed), followed by the highway mode in which the number of people processed declined by 7.97 percent as compared to 2007–08 (69,958,953 people processed). The number of people processed in the air mode was relatively stable with a marginal increase of 0.31 percent observed as compared to 2007–08 (23,357,348 people processed), while a slight increase was observed in the marine mode (2.07 percent) as compared to 2007–08 (2,892,349 people processed).

Marine 2,952,421
Rail 255,612
Total 91,018,820

Number of shipments* processed

The total number of shipments processed in 2008–09 declined by 3.82 percent as compared to 2007–08 (13,069,564 shipments processed).

The most significant decline was observed in the rail mode in which the number of shipments processed declined by 7.65 percent as compared to 2007–08 (393,679 shipments processed), followed by the highway mode in which the number of shipments processed declined by 4.25 percent as compared to 2007–08 (9,116,681 shipments processed). Declines in the number of shipments processed were also observed in the marine and air modes. In the marine mode, the number of shipments processed declined by 2.89 percent as compared to 2007–08 (477,047 shipments processed), while in the air mode, the number of shipments processed declined by 2.17 percent as compared to 2007–08 (3,082,157 shipments processed).


Marine 463,242
Rail 363,566
Total 12,570,794

Number of enforcement actions** – people


The number of enforcement actions taken against people decreased by 7.37 percent as compared to 2007–08 (93,456 actions taken). 

Number of enforcement actions** – commercial goods


The number of enforcement actions taken in relation to commercial goods increased by 6.44 percent as compared to 2007–08 (28,295 actions taken). 

* shipment: A singular computation of imported or exported goods identified by an invoice or accounting document, received from either the vendor or consignee and maintained in the records of a carrier as per the Customs Act.

** enforcement action: The act of compelling adherence to the law via the levying of sanctions (criminal and administrative), seizure of property and detaining of culpable persons.

Summary of Performance

The CBSA operates within the context of constantly changing economic and political environments. In response to a heightened security environment, the Agency has been enhancing its automated risk assessment systems and intelligence and targeting activities to address the most prominent border threats facing Canada, including terrorism, organized crime, firearms smuggling, illicit drugs, contraband goods, and irregular migration, as well as to ensure health and product safety. Border management continues to evolve at an increasing pace, with more advance information being required from people and on goods seeking entry into Canada and more efforts and resources being focused on mitigating potential risks as far away as possible from the physical border.

In 2008–09, the CBSA processed over 91 million travellers and 12 million shipments. This is a decrease in volume compared to the previous year, and is largely attributable to economic conditions: a combination of high oil prices during summer 2008 followed by a subsequent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar and the economic downturn beginning in late summer 2008. Volumes are expected to remain static over the course of the next year with the exception of a short-term increase in demand for border services in 2010 for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In preparation for the Games, the CBSA continued operational planning to secure the border and facilitate the entry of the many athletes and visitors expected to attend.

Under the Security program activity, the CBSA undertook a number of initiatives to strengthen how it manages risk and enforcement activities in Canada.

In 2008–09, the Agency improved its intelligence-gathering and analysis capacity by implementing a new organizational model for its Intelligence Directorate and establishing new performance measures. This realignment helped to strengthen the linkages between headquarters, regional and international intelligence personnel and provided clear points of contact for the CBSA's domestic and international counterparts. This in turn has helped to facilitate the exchange of pertinent intelligence information to better target high-risk people and goods seeking entry into Canada. The Agency also improved its ability to gather and analyze information on people seeking to enter Canada before they depart from their home country. In addition, the CBSA expanded its international presence by increasing the number of its migration integrity officers from 44 to 55. Migration integrity officers, stationed in 45 locations overseas, gather and analyze intelligence on visa and immigration application fraud, organized crime, irregular migration, public security and terrorism, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

To improve its targeting activities, the CBSA developed proposals for a new governance framework and centralized organizational structure. This will help the Agency to better manage targeting activities and improve national consistency. In addition, the CBSA developed and piloted a new training program for border services officers who are involved in targeting and the risk assessment of advance information on people and goods entering Canada. These measures to improve targeting activities respond to concerns raised in the 2007 October Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Chapter 5, “Keeping the Border Open and Secure.”

To strengthen its enforcement activities, the CBSA reinforced its commitment to focus on high-priority removals, especially individuals who pose a threat to the security of Canada, such as those involved in terrorist activities, organized crime and crimes against humanity. This included a review of the CBSA's warrants practices and policies to better track the Agency's removal inventory and focus CBSA resources on locating high-priority individuals wanted for removal. This activity responds to the concerns raised in the 2008 May Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Chapter 7, “Detention and Removal of Individuals.”

Under the Access program activity, the CBSA undertook initiatives to improve the free flow of legitimate people and goods across the border.

In 2008–09, the Agency conducted a Core Services Review  of the air mode in consultation with key airport stakeholders. The Review led to an air services policy framework that established a consistent, open and equitable approach to requests for new or enhanced publicly funded border services. New services identified in the framework were initiated at six airports starting on April 1, 2009, based on funding from Budget 2009.

In support of the Agency's post-release verification activities for commercial goods, the CBSA implemented a compliance strategic framework that sets out the criteria to assess risk and to select verification priorities for trade programs. This risk-based approach allows the Agency to ensure compliance with trade legislation and regulations and helps to provide a level playing field for Canadian businesses by ensuring the accuracy of trade data and the proper assessment, collection, relief and deferral of duties and taxes.

The CBSA was designated as the lead Government of Canada agency to work on the smooth implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a U.S. law that requires all travellers, including Canadian and American citizens, to present a valid passport or other secure document when entering the United States from within the western hemisphere. The CBSA actively worked with the United States and other federal departments and agencies and provincial governments to expand the number of approved secure documents to ensure that a critical mass of compliant documents was in circulation by June 1, 2009, when the Initiative was implemented for land and sea travel. This work resulted in the implementation of the Initiative with minimal border disruption.

Under the Science- and Technology-based Innovation program activity, the Agency implemented innovative systems and tools to improve border security. This included the development and implementation of technologies and systems to assess risk in the commercial environment. The CBSA continued its multi-year development of eManifest, a major Crown project, to improve how the Agency processes and screens commercial goods imported into Canada through the use of advance information and automated risk assessments. Further progress was made on the Harmonized Risk Scoring — Advance Trade Data initiative to improve the effectiveness of the CBSA's current automated risk assessment and targeting processes in the marine mode to be consistent with similar programs used by the United States and other key international partners.

The CBSA employs innovative solutions to assess risks posed by people travelling to Canada. In 2008–09, the CBSA continued to phase in the Integrated Primary Inspection Line system at land border ports of entry. The system enables CBSA officers to quickly and efficiently run automated risk assessments of people against enforcement databases. The CBSA also consulted with the airline industry on the Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record program. Under this program, commercial air carriers transmit air passenger data to the Agency so that CBSA officers can perform a pre-arrival risk assessment of all passengers.

The CBSA operates a world-class laboratory that offers a diverse range of scientific, analytical and research advisory services, particularly in the fields of biometrics and contraband detection. In 2008–09, the CBSA designed enhancements to the portal radiation detection systems that form part of the Agency's radiation detection program.

Under the Internal Services program activity, the CBSA continued to build on its modern management regime.

In 2008–09, an executive dashboard with key performance indicators was piloted in support of the Agency's efforts to strengthen its performance management regime. In addition, the CBSA implemented a human resources strategic plan that addresses the challenges of ensuring that the Agency's workforce is adaptable, responsive and representative of the Canadian population. In 2008–09, the Agency recruited over 1,000 border services officers and trained 923 border services officers and 444 veteran employees in the CBSA's three program areas (customs; immigration; and food, plant and animal inspection).

Risk Analysis

Because the CBSA is an intelligence-driven, risk-based organization, integrated risk management is an integral component of how it selects its priorities and allocates its resources to effectively manage its responsibilities. In 2008–09, the CBSA established an Integrated Risk Management Framework that, when fully implemented, will help the Agency to anticipate and plan for potential operational and corporate threats, which will result in a more responsive organization. The Framework is expected to be fully implemented in 2011.

In addition to the Framework, the CBSA uses a number of tools to help identify the Agency's key threats and risks. In 2008–09, the Agency's annual Border Threat and Risk Assessment fully integrated, for the first time, the threats and risks related to the Agency's immigration and food, plant and animal inspections responsibilities. In the assessment, the CBSA evaluated and rated 28 risks related to people and goods according to the mode of transport. The Agency also prepared a port risk assessment that provided a national ranking of the CBSA's ports of entry according to their relative risk and outlined the key threats and risks that are present at the highest-risk ports of entry. With these tools in hand, the Agency is able to better set inspection priorities and allocate resources according to the level of threat and type of risk.

In 2008–09, the Agency began work to better align its compliance management plan to the Agency's identified threats and risks. Now named the Risk-based Operational Plan, the CBSA intends to use this Plan to operationalize the threat and risk priorities identified in the Agency's ongoing risk assessments and to incorporate relevant information from other important sources such as the Agency's environmental scans and risk assessments from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. While still in the development stage, the Plan, when completed, will be the cornerstone of the Agency's approach to risk analysis (i.e. how the Agency translates its various risk assessments into operational priorities by region and by mode).

The CBSA has identified the need for a more cohesive strategic direction that will bring together the many initiatives currently being pursued by the Agency. Preliminary policy work emphasizes an approach to border management that will seek to assess the admissibility of people and goods closer to the country of origin and to identify threats through enhanced information sharing in order to interdict risks as early as possible. Furthermore, the inauguration of a new U.S. administration in early 2009 provided the CBSA with an opportunity to refocus and advance its relationships with key U.S. border partners to address common risks, threats and opportunities.

A preliminary examination of the Agency's organization, culture and business model highlighted the need to realign the CBSA's organizational structure. When complete, this will be the first change to the CBSA's organizational structure since its inception in 2003. This realignment is intended to strengthen the lines of accountability and to help the Agency deliver its programs and services more effectively.

Finally, the Agency is renewing its efforts to implement performance measurement. While this was an element of the modern management priority for 2008–09, and considerable efforts were made to advance this initiative, more work is required. As noted in the Agency's 2009–10 Report on Plans and Priorities, the implementation of a performance measurement regime continues to be a priority in order to support better decision making and to monitor and continually improve the performance of the Agency's programs and services.

Benefits to Canadians

CBSA Activity Benefits to Canadians

The CBSA works cooperatively with its North American counterparts to implement a border strategy that relies on technology, information sharing and biometrics to create a smart and secure border.

The CBSA ensures that the border remains open to low-risk people and goods and closed to crime and terrorism. To ensure the safety and security of Canada, the CBSA leverages technology to identify, assess and interdict potential risks and threats to Canada as far away as possible from the physical border.

The CBSA applies a responsible enforcement program and an effective sanctions regime to people and goods that contravene Canadian border laws.

The CBSA promotes compliance with border legislation by taking enforcement actions and imposing penalties and sanctions as warranted.

The CBSA collects import duties and taxes in excess of $22 billion a year.

The CBSA provides a critical component of revenues for the Government of Canada.

The CBSA implements sound comptrollership measures and conducts internal audits and program evaluations.

The CBSA demonstrates fiscal prudence and management accountability.

Table 1.3: Actual, Estimated and Planned Spending by Program Activity

($ thousands)
Program Activity

Actual Spending 2007–08

Main Estimates 2008–09

Planned Spending 2008–09

Total Authorities 2008–09*

Actual Spending 2008–09*

Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes







A strong and mutually beneficial North American partnership

By providing effective and efficient border management that ensures the safety and security of Canadians while facilitating the free flow of people and goods, the CBSA contributes to the social well-being, economic success and safety and security of the North American continent.







Science- and Technology-based Innovation












*The breakdown of total authorities by program activity is based on the CBSA's 2007–08 Program Activity Architecture whereas the breakdown of actual spending is based on the Agency's revised 2008–09 Program Activity Architecture. In this transition, a large portion of expenditures, but not authorities, was transferred from the Science- and Technology-based Innovation program activity to Internal Services. The CBSA uses a formula to allocate Internal Services costs to its other three program activities, resulting in the largest share of expenditures being reallocated to the Access program activity. For 2009–10, the CBSA has adjusted the authorities to better align budgets with expected outcomes.

Expenditure Profile

Figure 1.1: Spending Trend, 2006–07 to 2008–09

Figure 1.1: Spending Trend, 2006–07 to 2008–09


Figure 1.1 illustrates the trends of Main Estimates and actual expenditures for the past three fiscal years. Actual expenditures have steadily increased due mainly to the ratification of various collective agreements; increased staffing associated with various initiatives including eManifest, the arming of CBSA officers and efforts to address work-alone situations; replacing the Primary Automated Lookout System; and construction of new port-of-entry facilities in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

Voted and Statutory Items

($ thousands)
Vote No. or Statutory
Item (S)
Truncated Vote or
Statutory Wording
Actual Spending 2006–07 Actual Spending 2007–08 Main Estimates 2008–09 Actual Spending 2008–09
10 Operating expenditures 1,113,152 1,263,345 1,300,600 1,433,100
15 Capital expenditures 30,144 34,903 50,910 53,000
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 136,845 149,791 143,632 161,233
(S) Spending of proceeds from the disposal of surplus Crown assets 241 141   246
(S) Refunds of amounts credited to revenues in previous years 718 519   42
(S) Collection agency fees   8   4
(S) Court awards       11
Total   1,281,100 1,448,707 1,495,142 1,647,636

The $199 million increase in actual spending between 2007–08 and 2008–09 is mainly the result of the ratification of various collective agreements; increased staffing associated with various initiatives, including eManifest, the arming of CBSA officers and efforts to address work-alone situations; replacing the Primary Automated Lookout System; and construction of new port-of-entry facilities in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.