Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm joined today by Christine Walker, chief financial officer of the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA. I'm the executive vice-president of the agency.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the committee.
I’m here to address the Canada Border Services Agency’s request for additional funding under supplementary estimates (A). Specifically, the agency is seeking $41.6 million
—or $44.9 million including EBP—
to support the targeted admission of
300,000 immigrants in the context of the multi-year levels plans of the Government of Canada,
—or $172.6 million including EBP—
million to maintain the integrity of Canada’s border operations.
Let me explain briefly what the funding will be used for.
In the context of the government's multi-year levels plan, which was announced in October of 2016, the agency and its partners, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board, are committed to processing up to 300,000 new immigrants this year. This year's target is an increase from the 250,000 immigrants we have processed, on average, annually over the past 15 years, and the funding in our supplementary estimates is associated with that.
This funding will expand our current operations in the following areas.
Our overseas operations and pre-arrival security screening of all immigration applicants help to ensure that higher or unknown-risk people never come to Canada, never pose a threat to public safety, and never have to be subjected to lengthy and costly enforcement actions.
Processing upon arrival in Canada by our Border Services officers, who verify, identify, and do the work that they do with respect to admissibility, and who support the applicant's access to benefits and programs they are entitled to, including interim federal health coverage, for example.
Post-arrival enforcement actions help us deal with applicants who ultimately break Canada's laws. Such actions include investigations, hearings, appeals and, where necessary, detentions and removals.
Finally, some of the funding will go to investing in the recruitment and training of new officers at our college in Rigaud, Quebec.
With respect to the other amount of funding that we're requesting in the context of supplementary estimates (A), the $162.8 million is needed to support our ability to maintain our current service levels in the face of the overall growth in volumes across our business lines, growth that we expect will be greater this summer as a result of Canada celebrating its 150th anniversary as well as Montreal celebrating its 375th.
It will enable us to address retroactive salary obligations as collective agreements are settled, and it will help us ensure the continued and predictable availability of our mission-critical IT systems. It will also help to address the rising costs associated with managing our large portfolio of real property assets, which include over 115 land ports of entry and more than 200,000 square metres of leased space across the country.
I think, as you know, the agency is also playing an integral role in managing this year's exceptional flow of irregular migrants. The agency is assessing the full breadth of the impacts and our potential resource requirements to manage this still dynamic situation. As our minister stated when he appeared before this committee on May 15, if we need additional resources, he will seek them on our behalf. In this context, a request by us for additional resources associated with the irregular asylum situation would be beyond what we're seeking in the context of the $162.8 million. That funding is important to us, given the role that we play in supporting Canada's economy and security.
With respect to supporting the economy, just as a reminder, last year we processed more than 92 million travellers and 16 million commercial releases, all the while ensuring the safety and security of Canadians.
To ensure that we continue to deliver on our mandate effectively and efficiently, we're focused on maximizing the effectiveness of our program spending. In this context, in February, we launched the CBSA renewal. This initiative is giving us the opportunity to review all areas of the agency, including its governance, infrastructure, revenue generation opportunities and innovation agenda. The goal of the renewal is to ensure that our resources directly support the government’s priorities. In doing so, we'll ensure the sustainability of our operations for years to come.
Through the renewal, the agency is taking a strategic approach to examine what the border of the future will look like; how it must adjust to address new and emerging threats; and how it can make the border as open as possible for legitimate business and travellers.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We're ready to answer your questions.