The emergency created by the impact of COVID-19 in Canada has forced the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to pivot to an important but challenging role, in terms of monitoring health security at the border. Canadian border control measures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis have been implemented in an incremental manner since the outbreak first began in China in late 2019. While the CBSA has facilitated policies implemented by other departments of the federal government, there are both capacity gaps around implementing emergency measures and an unfulfilled role for CBSA as a strategic monitor of the impacts of major infectious disease outbreaks on border policies globally. There is work ahead for Canada in learning lessons from the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure a better response model in future, including for border security.
Wesley Wark is currently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, where he is co-directing a project on re-imagining Canadian national security for the 21st Century. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and an instructor at the Centre on Public Management and Policy, where he teaches courses on intelligence and security to government officials.