The new Canada-U.S. border deal will cost Canadian taxpayers at least this much
Canadian taxpayers might have to pay at least $60 million in a decade if the U.S.-Canada border were closed to asylum seekers. The expense of the Mounties stepping up “challenging” enforcement actions aren’t taken into consideration in that analysis. Ottawa and Washington expanded a bilateral agreement in March to turn back irregular migrants who try to enter the other country for protection, but a cost-benefit analysis was not published in the Canada Gazette till recently.
As stated in the public notice about the amended Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA):
“The RCMP will find it challenging to consistently implement the Regulations given the breadth and terrain of Canada’s landscape, the challenges posed by Indigenous and private lands, and the limits of current border technology (such as sensors, and cameras), along with the challenges these factors present.”
“Responding to reports of border crossings and intercepting irregular migrants between the ports is resource-intensive and risks diverting policing resources.”
The RCMP is responsible for monitoring unauthorized border crossings. It will be supported for greater initiatives to improve and substitute ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) equipment as well as to build a new project team to identify technical and other requirements.
However, the notice also stated that these expenditures are not viewed as incremental and are not included in the analysis. “It is acknowledged that investment in these new resources will probably help support… the broader objective of a reduction in irregular migration following implementation of the regulatory amendments,” it said.
The estimated $61.5 million price in today’s dollars only includes transition expenses, up-front capital expenditures, ongoing processing, operations, and enforcement costs for the Canada Border Services Agency and the immigration department. It includes:
- $560,000 this year alone will be spent on communication devices, IT expenses, program delivery instructions updates, additional administrative materials, and training expenses;
- 1.28 million dollars over the following ten years will be spent on purchasing vehicles to transport migrants, office equipment acquisition and installation costs, and renovations to add processing areas like interview rooms due to the increased dispersion of asylum seekers’ border crossing points; and
- $59.61 million over a ten-year period for continuous processing, operations, and enforcement costs for duties including determining eligibility, conducting investigations, gathering intelligence, reviews, overseeing infrastructure, litigation, and maintaining vehicles.
Officials predict that when migration patterns change, there will be a rise in the costs of police border towns and well-traveled tourist destinations in order to respond to calls, look into occurrences of illegal migration, and deal with possible people smuggling.
According to the public notice, there may also be costs or hazards for asylum seekers who decide to manipulate the system.
Since 2017, there has been an increase in unauthorized immigration to Canada via the United States, reaching approximately 40,000 asylum seekers in 2018. More than 90% of them entered Canada via Quebec’s renowned Roxham Road, placing stress on the nation’s asylum system as well as local housing and community services.
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