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Liberals to fund watchdog to handle complaints by travellers, detainees against CBSA

Federal Budget 2019: Morneau details $1 billion border strategy
WATCH: Morneau details $1 billion border strategy

OTTAWA – Travellers, immigration detainees and others who feel they have been mistreated by Canada’s border agency will be able to complain to an independent body under a new measure included in the federal budget.

The Liberal government is planning legislative changes to give the RCMP watchdog the additional responsibility of handling public complaints about the Canada Border Services Agency.

READ MORE: $1B border strategy promises to get tough on irregular asylum seekers

The budget allocates $24 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, and $7 million a year after that, to expand the mandate of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

Border officers can stop travellers for questioning, take blood and breath samples, and search, detain and arrest people without warrants.

WATCH: Cause of death undetermined in CBSA deportation death

Cause of death undetermined in CBSA deportation death
Cause of death undetermined in CBSA deportation death

The agency’s internal recourse directorate handles complaints from the public, while other bodies, including the courts, the federal privacy commissioner and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, examine various concerns about the agency’s work.

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But the border agency is not overseen by a dedicated, independent review or complaints body, prompting civil libertarians, refugee lawyers and parliamentary committees to call for stronger arm’s-length monitoring.