TORONTO — The federal government has confirmed it will present a plan for a new Canadian redress system, which could ease the stress of air travel for a growing number of Canadian families with children who have found themselves on Canada’s no fly list.
“The system itself needs to be fixed to solve the larger problem and that’s what we’re working on,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told Global News, prior to officially announcing the plan next month.
Unofficially, more than 60 families have come forward to a group called No Fly List Kids. The group’s primary goal is to see a Canadian redress system up and running, so their kids are never misidentified as a terrorist —especially in countries that have terrible human rights records.
“It’s a distinct possibility for us that some sort of mistake could happen and God knows what could happen to our son,” said Khadija Cadjee, whose six-year-old son has a name that has been flagged. “We don’t want him to face that uncertain future.”
Rather than using birth dates as a secondary check, the new redress system will allow Canadians who share names that are flagged on a no-fly list to enter a private number to prove they are not a threat.
Goodale’s department is working in coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Homeland Security to bring about the new redress plan.
Many Canadians have already been granted a U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Redress Number. But the solution offered in Canada so far is a directive for airlines not to detain passengers who are visibly under the age of 18 and for passengers to use airline loyalty cards.
“It is necessary they have a unique identifier (birth dates are not sufficient as customers enter these themselves when booking and there could be errors and individuals can share the same birthday),” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “In our case, we use Aeroplan numbers as they are unique.”
It’s an insecure and unacceptable solution according to Goodale.
“That’s a stop gap measure, that’s not good enough,” he said.
No funds were allocated in the 2016 Federal Budget for a new redress system, but the Public Safety Canada said, the “initiative will be funded through existing departmental resources.”
Goodale couldn’t disclose the cost of the security overhaul; it will likely be part of the announcement in May.
“The technical issue here it does require substantial reprogramming and it does require some investment in the system,” he explained. “But, we are determined to fix this.”