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Bill C-18, an Act to Amend the Customs Act and the Criminal Code, received royal assent on May 12, 1998, and broadened the scope of border services officers’ existing powers of arrest to include other federal offences such as impaired driving, child abduction, possession of stolen property, and individuals who are the subject of any outstanding Canadian arrest warrants.
The initial implementation took place at 32 ports of entry, including large and medium-sized land border crossings and the four busiest international airports. These locations represented 82 percent of traveller and commercial traffic entering Canada.
To date, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has implemented officer powers legislation in phases at over 70 percent of its offices and designated over 7,400 border services officers across Canada, enhancing the safety and security of Canadians across the country.
The final phase of implementation includes ports of entry and service sites such as postal operations, marine ports and offsite locations—i.e. CANPASS service centers, marinas and other alternate inspection locations.
For the CBSA to implement officer powers legislation at a port of entry, three elements are required: a Working Agreement with the responding police agency, adequate detention facilities and a sufficient number of designated officers.
Extensive consultations have taken place with the Ontario Provincial Police to ensure that protocols and operating procedures are in place for dealing with Criminal Code offences at the Sombra Ferry crossing.
Border services officers at the Sombra Ferry crossing now have the power to arrest and detain individuals suspected of impaired driving, child abduction or possession of stolen property, and individuals with outstanding arrest warrants.
In 2010–2011, officers in the St. Clair District dealt with 36 incidents related to Criminal Code offences, most of which involved impaired driving and outstanding arrest warrants.
As the CBSA plays an important role in protecting Canadians from threats to public safety and national security, the final phase of this implementation process will further minimize the risk of dangerous individuals entering Canada.