Madam Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-3.
If passed, this bill will establish the public complaints and review commission for the Canada Border Services Agency, the CBSA. This bill will give individuals a forum to express their discontent and have their complaints heard.
The new commission will be an addition to the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. The new joint commission will receive complaints from the public concerning the conduct of CBSA and RCMP employees and the services both organizations provide, with the exception of complaints relating to national security, which are reviewed by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.
The CBSA is a key player in maintaining peace and security in Canada and has been for almost 16 years. Currently, Canadians rely on nearly 14,000 employees to provide fair, respectful service to the public. Those 14,000 employees are responsible for the longest international land border on the planet.
They work hard to protect our borders at 13 airports, 117 land border crossings, and ports and railway stations across this great country. Every day, they monitor the flow of goods and people crossing the border, and they do it professionally and courteously. Many MPs can attest to receiving outstanding services from CBSA employees during their travels abroad.
Over the course of the last fiscal year, CBSA employees interacted with 96 million travellers, inspected four million of them and processed over 21 million commercial releases and 46 million courier shipments. Their work involves seizing illegal goods, enforcing trade remedies, and intercepting and detaining people who pose a threat to public safety or are inadmissible.
In that context, the CBSA is also responsible for enforcing over 90 laws and regulations that ensure the country's and Canadians' security, and so I want to commend those employees for the professionalism and dedication with which they do their jobs every day.
However, I still believe that, when people feel as though their rights have been violated during an interaction with a government agency, they should have the opportunity to file a complaint against the agency in question. What is more, I am of the opinion that the complaint in question must be examined by an external and independent body. That is an important and fundamental guarantee that Canadians expect and are entitled to.
Bill C-3 seeks to offer Canadians that exact guarantee. The CBSA is currently the only agency under the Department of Public Safety that does not have its own independent review mechanism. Many proponents are calling for such a mechanism to be implemented. I would like to mention just a few.
The chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission said the following on the subject in 2016, and I quote:
This is why we have joined the call for independent monitoring and oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency in relation to migrants and other foreign nationals in detention.
In 2015, the hon. Senator Moore introduced Bill S-205, which proposed the creation of an inspector general to consider complaints.
Later the same year, this bill was followed by a report from the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence that reached the same conclusion. The committee later recommended that the Canadian government create an independent public complaints review body for the CBSA.
On the national security side, our government has already created the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. That agency has the authority to review national security and intelligence-related functions across government, including the CBSA. Bill C-3 therefore provides the final missing piece. Indeed, Bill C-3 will allow for independent review of non-national security-related government activities only.
In addition, the new public complaints review commission could conduct its own investigations—