Redress system for travellers caught by ‘no-fly listing’ errors coming this month: Blair
Aid is on the way to people who are mistakenly marked as a security threat on the “no-fly list,” Public Security Minister Bill Blair announced on Wednesday.
The minister said he hoped to have a new system for people whose names resemble those of real terrorist threats and who are ready in time for the vacation travel season.
“It wasn’t just an inconvenience. It was very traumatic for these families and I think it’s about the kids,” Blair said in an interview with CBC News.
“It was the right thing and we worked on it.”
Canada’s no-fly list – formerly known as the Passenger Protection Program or Secure Air Travel Act – dates back to 2007 and is designed to prevent potential security threats when boarding commercial aircraft.
The old system was based more on names than on unique identifiers such as dates of birth or passport numbers. As a result, some Canadians – including young children – have been mistakenly flagged by the system because their names match or are similar to real security threat names.
For years, the families affected by the system and the lobby group they founded, the No-Fly List Kids, have been campaigning for the government to resolve the problem. The experience of being excluded from boarding an airliner is traumatic.
Today the group said the measures announced in the House of Commons represent “a step forward in calling for continued and increased accountability, transparency and anti-racist policies of public safety and other national security organizations”.
The final provisions of the Secure Air Travel Regulations went into effect on Wednesday and transferred responsibility for screening travelers against the list from the airlines to the federal government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the rules in the lower house on Wednesday.
In the coming days, certain travelers will be able to apply for a “Canadian Travel Number” – a unique number they can use when booking air travel to distinguish them from those on the list, according to a press release from Blair’s office.
Application starts within 2 weeks
The press release states that the application should be submitted online within two weeks and that travelers can apply before airlines switch to the new centralized screening system from late November.
When asked why it took so long to fix the issue, the minister said it took both legal and regulatory changes to get to this day.
CLOCK | Trudeau announces changes to the no-fly list
“It was also necessary to develop, test, and implement some rather complex IT systems,” said Blair.
Public safety said new regulations will also allow the government to screen travelers against the list before arriving at the airport for their flight – up to 72 hours before departure – to avoid check-in delays.
“It will be a central database that will be managed by the government and not data that will be passed to the airlines,” Blair said.
“I think that really improves the benefits of maintaining a safe environment for airlines. We can provide more information in that.”
Government officials have not confirmed how many people are on Canada’s no-fly list, arguing that the information could help terrorists plan a catastrophic attack on an airliner.
In the 2018 budget, the Liberal government pledged more than $ 80 million over five years and then $ 14 million annually to build the new centralized screening system.
Canada’s updated national security legislation, formerly known as Bill C-59, gave the department the authority to create the new system. It was adopted in June 2019.