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Archived - Border Controls on Imports Need Better Monitoring

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(Chapter 1—Border Controls on Commercial Imports—Spring 2012 Report of the Auditor General)

Ottawa, 3 April 2012—While controls on commercial imports at the border are generally working, they need to be better monitored, says Michael Ferguson, the Auditor General of Canada, in his Report tabled today in the House of Commons. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) works with other federal organizations to ensure that consumer goods entering Canada conform with Canadian laws and regulations.

“We know the controls are generally working because we tested them, not because the responsible departments were able to tell us so,” said Mr. Ferguson. “The Canada Border Services Agency and other departments need to be better at monitoring of their controls at the border.”

According to the Agency, it processed 13 million shipments of commercial products in 2010–11, about 4 million of which were subject to federal import controls.

Some goods examined in the audit were allowed to enter the country even though they did not meet their import requirements. These were most often goods for which Health Canada is responsible, but for which there is no agreement with the CBSA explaining how border services officers should identify and deal with the goods.

The audit also found that border lookouts and examinations—controls reserved for shipments that are considered higher risk—need to be better managed. In 40 percent of cases reviewed by the audit, the results of examinations were incorrectly or incompletely recorded. The CBSA does not keep a record of how many shipments are stopped as a result of border lookouts. These gaps in monitoring make it difficult to determine whether the controls are working as intended.

“We looked at a sample of import transactions over a limited period. Knowing whether border controls continue to work as intended will require better monitoring on an ongoing basis,” said Mr. Ferguson.

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The chapter “Border Controls on Commercial Imports” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada Web site.

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