CATSA employees perform security checks of passengers and their carry on at a security screening area at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Canada looks to United States for help on solving no-fly list headaches

The Public Safety Canada memos detail the steps being taken to redesign Canadian no-fly procedures

Canadian security officials have turned to their U.S. counterparts for advice on revamping Ottawa’s troublesome no-fly list that has ensnared young children trying to check in at the airport.

Newly released memos show Canadian representatives held a series of consultations with American officials to learn from their experiences implementing a new passenger screening and redress system a decade ago.

READ MORE: Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

The Public Safety Canada memos, released under the Access to Information Act, detail the steps being taken to redesign Canadian no-fly procedures — from legislative and regulatory changes to hefty information-technology investments.

“It’s important to note that implementing the enhanced passenger protect program is a substantial undertaking that will take time,” says one memo. “It involves the passage of legislation, new regulations, the development and testing of IT systems, and domestic air carriers adopting the new system.”

The changes have been spurred in large measure by parents of children who have repeatedly endured nerve-wracking airport delays because a youngster’s name matches one on the no-fly list.

A bill currently before the Senate would allow federal officials to electronically screen air-passenger information against the list, a process now handled by the airlines.

The system is expected to closely mirror the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight screening program in place since 2009 — changes that flowed from recommendations of the inquiry into the 9/11 airliner attacks on New York and Washington.

As with the U.S. system, Canadian travellers who have experienced difficulties would be given a unique “redress number” to help avoid mismatches.

The airline would give the number along with the passenger’s date of birth and gender to the government for screening against the Secure Air Travel Act watchlist. Federal officials would then let the carrier know of any additional screening requirements or an outright prohibition on allowing the person to fly.

Canadian officials visited Washington in February 2017 for an overview of the Secure Flight program and associated technology and costs, the internal memos say. Public Safety officials made a second trip to the U.S. capital in November of that year to discuss the program further with the Department of Homeland Security.

Officials from Public Safety, Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency took part in a call with U.S. counterparts in February 2018, the notes indicate. That was followed by another visit to Washington two month later to discuss “a number of outstanding questions,” the documents say.

In addition to learning about the U.S. experience with redress numbers, it has been useful to hear about Washington’s dealings with air carriers — the majority of which serve both the Canadian and U.S. market, said Zarah Malik, a Public Safety Canada spokeswoman.

Canadian officials have also talked to the Americans about the identity documents being accepted for U.S. domestic air travel, as well as how officials there have dealt with computer-system outages working in a near round-the-clock environment, she added.

In addition, consultations have taken place with civil society groups, international and domestic airlines and the broader travel industry.

Civil liberties advocates have criticized the no-fly regime as overly secretive and lacking due process for those who contest their inclusion on the list.

Once legislation governing the new program passes, regulations would be introduced to help flesh out procedures. “The regulatory process can be a lengthy one as it includes numerous steps,” says an internal memo.

Project implementation will start with development of information-technology systems by both the air carriers and the government, a process expected to take several month, the memo adds. “These systems will be tested thoroughly to ensure the future success of the program.”

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Priority should be given to locals accessing Golden Ears park

Maple Ridge residents should be able to reserve new day passes ahead of out-of-towners: one local

When life gives you lemons…

Maple Ridge kids make the most of summer by setting up lemonade stand

SHARE: Rainy days of summer in Maple Ridge still a sight to behold

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Flames honour their best from last season

Maple Ridge’s Amsler the MVP and team scoring leader

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read