CBSA collecting personal information from truckers

COUTTS, Alta. – Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has begun collecting personal information from truck drivers at several border crossings on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). This has taken some drivers, including lease-operator Greg Decker by surprise, and caused some concern. He was recently asked for his personal email address and cell phone number while crossing at Coutts, Alta.

Decker called the CBSA toll-free line, but didn’t receive any further information on why his personal info was being collected. He then turned to social media and found other drivers had been asked for the same information at Coutts. “This adds to the already catastrophically high stress level,” Decker told Today’s Trucking in an email. “If the government wants this information, have the courtesy and respect to explain why in public.”

We reached out to CBSA’s Prairie Region media spokesman Luke Reimer, who confirmed the information is being collected on behalf of PHAC at several border crossings as part of a pilot project. Those crossings include: St. Stephen 3rd Bridge, N.B.; St-Armand/Phillipsburg, Que.; Lansdowne, Ont.; Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Ont.; Coutts, Alta.; and Pacific Highway, B.C.

Lease-operator Greg Decker was taken aback when asked for personal information including cell number and email address at the border. (Photo: Greg Decker)

“As of June 30, in conjunction with PHAC, the CBSA launched a pilot project to collect contact information from persons who are exempt from quarantine by virtue of falling within one of the exemptions in Section 6 of Order in Council 2020-0523.

This is so these exempt persons may be contacted during the 14-day period that begins on the day on which they enter Canada,” Reimer explained, noting further border crossings may also take part. If requested for their personal information, “it is mandatory for travelers – including exempt persons – to provide their contact information in accordance with section 15(1) of the Quarantine Act and section 2(b) of the Order in Council 2020-0523,” Reimer added. Decker is unhappy the pilot wasn’t communicated to the trucking industry before its launch, and still has some reservations about providing personal information at the border.

He also questions the effectiveness of the approach. “There is zero chance that I would reply to either a phone call or email from anyone claiming they are from a government agency. Do they not realize the volume of call we receive from scam artists claiming to be from CRA?

Or the latest scam, from the RCMP?” Decker noted.

“I understand the desire and intent, but they should have actually consulted someone outside of their bubble,” he added. “Most truck drivers I know are not going to respond to inquires from Public Health, many are giving their company emails and phone numbers.”

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