Canada’s border controls are set to be tightened by a new law to be introduced by the Liberal government.
Under the legislation, a log will be created of every traveller who leaves the country with the information shared between agencies both in Canada and the USA.
The border exit control system will give the government a clear picture of everyone leaving the country. It is intended to close a security gap that has previously been exposed when Canadian citizens have joined terrorist groups abroad without being tracked.
Privacy groups have voiced concerns yet many other western countries including the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand already keep a record of who leaves. Canada has an intelligence sharing agreement with these four nations.
Although the new legislation is unlikely to be made law until the fall at the earliest, privacy experts want to see careful controls over what information and how it will be shared between the border authorities.
Quick Facts: The Canada-US Border
Longest international border in world at 8,891km, 2,475km of which is with Alaska
3.3 million Canadians travelled to the USA in February 2016, with 2 million moving in the other direction
400,000 people and $2.4 billion in trade cross the border each day
Canada and US are second and fourth largest countries in the world by area
Canadian provinces and territories on border: Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick
US states on border: Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
Concerns have also been expressed over which agencies in Canada will have access to the information, including the Canada Revenue Agency.
Canadians were warned recently about keeping track of how much time they spend in the US because of tax implications if limits are exceeded.
The current limit is 120 days averaged over three years. An application can be filed to extend that to 182 days, provided certain conditions are met.
Those exceeding the yearly limit face being considered a US resident, and having to pay the resultant taxes. They could also lose their Canadian residency and access to health care, or be deemed an illegal resident in the US, which could result in being banned from the country for up to 10 years.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, says there will be strict controls over how the information gathered is used both here and in the US, pointing out that only basic passport information will be shared with American authorities.
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