Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House on February 2 to ask the government if it would be reinvesting in the Canada Border Services Agency to make it more efficient. My colleague, the hon. minister, informed me at the time that an action plan would be implemented by the end of the year.
I rise here today because I must confess that I am concerned about the next few months. Between now and the end of the year, potentially illegal goods could leave the country due to a lack of resources. Immediate action is needed.
The Auditor General's February report highlighted some troubling facts. As we know, the Canada Border Services Agency plays an important role in protecting Canada's safety and security by overseeing the movement of people and goods in and out of the country.
The CBSA administers more than 90 acts, regulations and international agreements on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, the provinces and the territories. It is therefore unacceptable for an organization of this magnitude to fail to deliver on its commitments and its mission. The Auditor General's February report showed that the agency does not have close to what it needs to act on its law enforcement priorities because of a lack of information and resources.
As a result, it is possible that goods that do not comply with Canada's export laws may have left the country. One in five high-risk shipments identified by the agency itself was not examined at the port of exit. The agency missed opportunities to prevent non-compliant shipments from leaving the country. Those targeted shipments were not examined because they had already been loaded on ships or had left Canada by the time the information was received. I repeat, the agency failed to inspect about one in five high-risk shipments. Is that not troubling?
We could have prevented more stolen vehicles from being removed from the country and illegal drugs from being exported from Canada. In short, we have some serious concerns about how the agency is being managed.
The inefficiencies are also the result of the agency being understaffed. In his report, the Auditor General pointed out how important it was for the Canada Border Services Agency to hire more staff, to ensure that high-risk shipments leaving the country are properly examined.
The Auditor General stated that staffing levels also explain the fact that some shipments targeted by the agency are not examined. For example, examinations decrease when employees are on vacation or sick leave.
Here is another example of the problems. At one port, no export control examinations were conducted when the assigned border services officer was on vacation. This is hard to believe, but it is the truth. There was no one to conduct inspections at this port because one officer was on vacation. We expect better, and now the agency needs to do better.
With the summer holidays approaching, this must not happen again. The agency needs proper resources so that it can improve its methods and fix its mistakes.
The Canada Border Services Agency is Canada's last line of defence against the export of goods that are in violation of Canada's export laws.
We do not want to become a sieve for illegal goods. I am calling on the government to take meaningful action to ensure that the agency does not violate its international commitments. We have international commitments and we must honour them.
The Conservatives gutted the Canada Border Services Agency, and now we are seeing the consequences of those cuts.
How much will the government invest in the Canada Border Services Agency, and when, to ensure that the agency can fulfill its mandate properly?