Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 10 - Evidence, February 10, 2003 

OTTAWA, Monday, February 10, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 5:10 p.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.

The Chairman: It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. This evening the committee will have the first of many briefings on Canada-United States relations in preparation for its trip to Washington to meet with members of Congress and administration officials during the last week of March. We will also continue our study on the need for a national security policy by focusing on the role of First Responders.

I am a senator from Ontario and serve as chair of this committee.

With us today is a distinguished senator from Nova Scotia. Senator Michael Forrestall has served the constituents of Dartmouth as their member of the House of Commons for 25 years and for the past 12 years as their senator. Throughout his parliamentary career, he has followed defence matters, serving on various parliamentary committees, including the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Forces as well as representing Canada at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Also with us today is Senator Joe Day from New Brunswick. He is a graduate in electrical engineering from the Royal Military College in Kingston and a lawyer. Prior to his appointment to the Senate in 2001, he had a successful legal practice specializing in areas of patent and trademark law and intellectual property. Senator Day is the deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Currently, this committee is looking at the financial framework for federally funded arm's length foundations. He is also deputy chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, which is studying veterans' benefits. As well, Senator Day sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, a committee that is just starting a study on the state of Canada's media industries.

Senator Michael Meighen, from Ontario, is a successful lawyer and businessman who has made a contribution to a wide range of charitable and educational institutions. He is the chancellor of the University of King's College in Halifax. Senator Meighen has a strong background in defence matters, having served on the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of Canadian Forces. He is the chairman of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Currently, this subcommittee is looking at veterans' benefits, especially for injuries received during active service. He also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which is investigating the collapse of a number of major companies.

Senator Cordy is from Nova Scotia. She is an accomplished educator who also has an extensive record of community involvement. Senator Cordy has served as vice-chair of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. In addition to serving on our committee, she is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that recently released a landmark report on health care and is now studying mental health. Senator Cordy sits on the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and is an active participant in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Senator Norm Atkins, from Ontario, came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the field of communications. He also served as an adviser to the former Premier Davis of Ontario. A graduate in economics from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, he received an honorary doctorate in civil law in the year 2000 from his alma mater. During his time as a senator, he has championed the cause of the Canadian merchant navy veterans and is a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Conservative caucus. He is also deputy chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.

Senator Tommy Banks is from Alberta. He is well known to Canadians as one of our most accomplished and versatile entertainers and an international standard-bearer for Canadian culture. From 1968 to 1983, he was host of The Tommy Banks Show, during which time he won a Juno award. He has also served as guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout Canada and the United States. Senator Banks is chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. Currently, this committee is studying the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Senator Banks also sits on the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee with a mandate to examine the subjects of security and defence. Over the past 18 months, we have completed a number of studies. After a seven-month study of major issues facing Canada, we produced, in February 2002, a report entitled "aCanadian Security and Military Preparedness.''

Then the Senate asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. To date, we have released three reports on various aspects of national security. The first, "aDefence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility'', was released in September of 2002. The second, "aFor an extra 130 bucks...Update on Canada's Military Crisis: A View from the Bottom Up'' was released in November of 2002. Most recently, "aThe Myth of Security at Canada's Airports'' was released in January 2003.

Over the course of the next two weeks, the committee will be briefed about the state of Canada-United States relations by a wide range of government officials, including representatives from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, intelligence agencies, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and National Defence.

These briefings are an essential part of the preparations of the committee, which is making a fact-finding trip to Washington at the end of March. In Washington, we will discuss common security concerns with members of the United States administration and our congressional counterparts.

This evening, our first presenters are from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Leading the group is Denis Lefebvre, the Assistant Commissioner of the customs branch. He is accompanied by Earle Warren, Director General of the Major Projects Design and Develop Directorate, and Mr. Mark Connolly.

Welcome back to the committee. It is good to see you this evening. If you would care to proceed, it would be most welcome.

Mr. Denis Lefebvre, Assistant Commissioner, Customs Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency: We are pleased indeed to be here. Mr. Mark Connolly is Director General of the Contraband and Intelligence Directorate of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, within the customs branch.

My understanding of the purpose of our appearance is to provide the committee with an update on the work we have done at Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, CCRA, following the Smart Border Declaration. I do not have an introductory statement to make per se, however, if it is agreeable to the committee, I will go through the progress we have made, especially since we last appeared before the committee, on the 30-point plan.

As you know, the Smart Border Declaration was signed on December 12, 2001. The CCRA has the lead in respect of eight points on the 30-point plan. These are: Alternate inspection services, item 3; API/PNR, item 8; ferry terminals, which is also marine benchmarking, item 10; harmonized commercial processing, item 14; clearance away from the border, item 15; joint facilities, item 16; customs data exchange, item 17; and in-transit container targeting, item 18.

In respect of single alternative inspection system, we have made excellent progress. In particular, we have been successful in negotiating with our U.S. counterparts and in collaboration with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration a program we call NEXUS, which enables travellers to cross the border in dedicated fast lanes both ways.

NEXUS is operational at five ports. It became operational at Sarnia-Port Huron in November 2000, Pacific Highway-Blaine and Douglas-Blaine on June 26 of 2002, at Boundary Bay-Point Roberts on July 29, 2002, and more recently at Ambassador Bridge on January 23, and at Fort Erie-Buffalo Peace Bridge on January 30, 2003.

NEXUS will be expanded to the Windsor-Detroit tunnel in March 2003, and at Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Whirlpool Bridge in southern Ontario in the spring of 2003. All other high-volume crossings will receive NEXUS by the end of 2003. At present, we have approved over 30,000 applicants for NEXUS, and over 8,000 are under review.

Another initiative under this single alternative inspection system is CANPASS Air. This is an initiative for pre- approved, low-risk air travellers. It will be available when you come into Canada in Canada's airports only, one way. It will be our first program based on biometrics. The biometric of choice for CANPASS Air is the iris scan. This initiative will be implemented at Vancouver International Airport in early 2003, and subsequently in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, and Winnipeg.

We also have arranged a joint Canada/U.S. NEXUS Air program piloting NEXUS Air program, which will be like CANPASS Air, but going both ways. NEXUS Air will be piloted at Ottawa and Dorval international airports. It will be in place, if our efforts work well with the U.S., before the end of the year. We will use for NEXUS the same biometric technology as CANPASS Air.

You have no doubt heard of our efforts to implement API/PNR, or advance passenger information and passenger name record. The last time I was here, I mentioned that we had agreed to share advance passenger information and passenger name records on high-risk travellers who are flying to either country. We are now working towards the development of joint risk assessments. We implemented API in October 2002, and we will start collecting PNR later in the spring.

The Smart Border Declaration item called "aFerry Terminals'' is really about maritime security. In May 2002, we completed a marine benchmarking exercise with the U.S. The objective is to enhance Canadian and U.S. border security at marine terminals through the adoption of a series of benchmarks for improving security and contraband interception. There were 42 recommendations ranging in complexity at various stages of implementation. One example is the creation of a customs system to capture information regarding vessels. It could potentially become a joint U.S.- Canada system.

Another program we are working on is harmonized commercial processing. The Free and Secure Trade, FAST, program is a joint initiative for pre-approved carriers, drivers and importers to expedite the movement of low risk shipments across the border. Currently, FAST is available at the following high-volume border crossings: Douglas, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington; Sarnia Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan; Windsor, Ontario and Detroit Michigan; Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York; Queenston, Ontario and Lewiston, New York; Lacolle, Quebec and Champlain, New York.

While it is too early in the development of FAST to cite numbers, we expect FAST to match the figures for the Customs Self-Assessment program, CSA. The CSA program was implemented in December 2001 for low-risk trucks coming into Canada. This has been a very successful program. FAST is very similar to CSA, but with the U.S. it enables approved importers, carriers and drivers to go both ways in the fast lanes. On CSA, we already have 5 approved importers, 61 importers who have applied and moving through the approval process, We have 150 approved carriers, and an additional 309 carrier applications in process. We have more than 49,000 approved drivers.

Because the five importers that have been approved are very large, about 30 per cent of our trade going to the U.S. is going through our FAST lanes, again, because of the location of those five importers, mostly in southern Ontario. With respect to the 61 importer applications that are currently being processed, once completed, more than 50 per cent of our trade that will be approved as low risk and will be permitted to use dedicated lanes going to the U.S. FAST is very recent. After we approved it with the U.S., we had to go through the application process, the enrolment process, and so on.

FAST is for low-risk, pre-approved shipments. We are also working with our colleagues in U.S. customs to harmonize our commercial processing of non-preapproved commercial shipments.

We are working with our U.S. colleagues in other modes. In the marine mode, the U.S. introduced the Container Security Initiative, CSI, and the 24-hour rule that became effective on February 2. Our trade community is supportive of our harmonized North American approach for marine shipments and we are actively developing the key characteristics of a Canadian rule for the marine mode. Inasmuch as it matches our interest, we will want to develop rules that will be harmonized with the U.S. rules.

The U.S. has also passed legislation on mandatory electronic information for all modes by October 2003. Recently, they have proposed advance reporting time frames as follows: for highways, four hours' prior do lading; for air, 12 hours; for rail, 24 hours prior to departure; for exports, 24 hours prior to lading. If those proposals were to be implemented, it would have major impact on the Canada-U.S. border.

There was a strong negative reaction from the entire North American trade community, and they are now reconsidering the time frames. We are pursuing an exemption for FAST shipments from those rules. We will also consider harmonizing our time frames if significant changes are made to the U.S. proposals for other modes.

One item that we worked on as part of the Smart Border Declaration was clearance away from the border. Significant legal and sovereignty issues have created some obstacles to bringing this initiative to a fruitful conclusion. However, we are continuing to discuss this issue with legal counsel. The U.S. is doing the same but we do not foresee an imminent breakthrough on this issue.

In respect of the rail mode, we were informed, some time ago, that the U.S. intended to perform 100 per cent scanning of trains going to the U.S. It is a process similar to the one done at the U.S-Mexico border. Both CN and CP had difficulty accepting this and therefore we have worked with these railways on the development of a hub concept, whereby we would apply the concept of a smart border. However, the screening would be done at Canadian railway hubs, so the train would be able to move freely at the land border. We are still actively working with the two railways and with U.S. Customs to find a solution that would be acceptable to all parties.

As part of the Smart Border Declaration, we have also been working on the development of joint facilities. This is advantageous from a number of points of view. One advantage is in respect of the health and safety of our employees, as we bring the two offices of small ports together. This initiative will also provide both operational and security advantages.

We currently have some joint facilities at four small ports and we are looking at real estate developments in the future. We have about one dozen additional ports that are on our list of potential candidates for the development of joint facilities.

In the program we also want to have the facility for the exchange of information with our U.S. partners, where warranted. In December 2001, we signed a cooperation arrangement for the exchange of information for the purposes of inquiries related to customs fraud. We have also reached an agreement in principle on the exchange of NAFTA information, which includes audit plans, audit reports, the results of advance rulings, and origin determinations and re- determinations. We are working to identify other opportunities for exchange.

As you have heard, we have targeters in two U.S. ports and the U.S. has targeters in three Canadian ports: Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. We are now working to improve our ability to target containers coming to Canada via the U.S. and, similarly, we are working with U.S. Customs to ensure that U.S. targeters working in our ports have access to those targeting systems. In that way, they would be better equipped to find high-risk containers. This is, in all areas, a successful program.

One other initiative is to improve our ability to target high-risk containers at seaports. We are in the process of acquiring a number of container scanners with the brand name, Mobile VACIS. It is a truck-mounted, gamma ray, mobile scanning system that captures an image of the contents of a marine container, a rail car or a truck. The scanner provides the operators with an image similar, in many ways, to an X-ray. The first of three scanners have been located at the ports of Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax. Additional unites will be installed at: Vancouver in February; at Niagara Falls/Fort Erie, Windsor/Sarnia and Montreal in March; at Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and St. John, New Brunswick, in July.

We are pursuing new technologies such as mobile/pallet gamma rays, scanning systems; radiation detection equipment, hand-held ionscans, remotely operated vehicles, tool trucks, and biological and chemical weapons detectors in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

We have just put additional working groups in place, one of which is a binational border modelling group. These groups model the activities in the ports and determine all of the variables involved, such as the primary inspection line, PIL, the road, the number of PILs and the number of officers. That information allows us to determine what steps could best be taken to reduce congestion or to increase our efficiency at ports. This is best done as a joint effort with the U.S. That is why we are putting a binational modelling group in place that will work with customs, immigration, the bridge authorities, the tunnel authorities, and with the transportation departments.

We want to put a border infrastructure group in place. We have agreed on FAST lanes — pre-approved systems — that enable us to process travellers and trucks rapidly at the border. It is important that those FAST cars and trucks not be caught behind slower traffic — people who have not been pre-approved. Right now in the customs plaza, which is the area immediately preceding the PIL, the road widens into 6 to 10 lanes, however that only reduces the number of cars per each lane. While the primary inspection lanes may be dedicated FAST lanes for vehicles that are pre-approved but the highway leading to the plaza could still be clogged with slower trucks that may not have their papers in order. Thus, it is important to work with the transportation departments and to make the contributions to the border investment funds to ensure that the progress we have made in developing customs processes is utilized to its full potential.

We are putting a binational advisory committee in place to guide us in future work with the U.S. on the continuing improvement of our programs. The next shared border accord meeting will be hosted by the U.S. customs February 19-20, 2003.

It is fair to say that we have had a good deal of success in creating programs that have been acceptable to the U.S. from a security perspective and have enabled us to process traffic in a timely way. Our relationship with the United States has never been closer. We still have many projects on our workbench, and we look optimistically at the future. We are open to questions.

The Chairman: Thank you for a comprehensive presentation.

Senator Banks: As the chair said, we are going to Washington. The last time that we were there, we found two levels of understanding of where Canada is on these matters. My observation was that people at the more senior levels were better informed. They had some confidence in what we were doing with respect to borders. However, the general opinion in Washington, even among members of Congress who in our view ought to have known better, was the typical cartoon version of Canada as a sieve and haven for bad guys and for harbouring people that think we ought not to harbour.

When we go back to Washington, we will certainly not be there to plead Canada's case, but to remind them as we always do, that our priorities are not always identical. When, and if, we run into those misgivings among American legislators and bureaucrats as Canada being a sieve and haven for the bad guys, what information can you provide us to tell them about the comparative work that has been done on fixing things since the events that gave rise to this 30- points Action Plan?

All comparisons are odious, but we get asked these questions. Are we doing as well or better than they are? Have we fixed those problems that did exist? Are we on track? Are you happy with the way things are preceding?

You said that you had found that there was never closer cooperation between you and your U.S. counterparts. I am glad to hear that there is an arena in which that is true. Can you give us more comfort in that respect?

Mr. Lefebvre: Anecdotally, late last week, the U.S. cranked its security level from yellow to orange. The first question that came to mind for U.S. Customs and U.S. Immigration related to the NEXUS and FAST programs — programs to which we had agreed when the security level was lower. Could the programs be kept operating? The answer was a resounding "ayes'' from people in the know.

U.S. Customs and U.S. Immigration gave us immediate assurance that there was no question of shutting down NEXUS and FAST. It is comforting to know, when a sense of crisis is developing, that those programs were both secure and facilitative and that they withstood this test.

I cannot give details because of the operational nature, but we have conducted discussions as part of the Smart Border Accord. We have conducted a review of our practices at airports. People from U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration and Canada conducted reviews of security procedures in American and Canadian airports. We have done the same thing in Canadian and American ports. We know that our procedures and our screening ability at both airports and seaports compare well with what the Americans are doing.

We identified gaps on both sides. The purpose of those reviews was to identify best practices, share information, and then to move toward basically similar screening standards at our airports and seaports so that we can relax our joint border to a certain extent.

My colleagues may want to give other examples. I do not know what the Americans will tell you. They are not always familiar with what Canada does, but we have worked closely with U.S. Customs. Certainly, you can tell them that our level of efficiency and effectiveness is not wanting.

Senator Banks: Offhand, do you know the numbers of customs and immigration officers on both sides of the border with the U.S?

Mr. Lefebvre: Traditionally, they had about two-thirds of the staff at the joint border as we did. Recently they received additional appropriations and obtained additional staff. We do not have the exact numbers, but they are closer to our numbers. I do not believe that they have exceeded us, but their numbers are now closer to ours.

Senator Banks: You talked about harmonization and ensuring that the standards are the same at ports and airports. There are Canadians who would wonder whether that is an abdication of self-determination on our part. Are we still the masters of our own house as far as those kinds of things are concerned?

Mr. Lefebvre: We have approached this from a Canadian interest point of view. We have a reciprocal interest in developing some joint programs.

As I mentioned, CSA, was the precursor of FAST. We believed in CSA from day one, and we were certainly extremely pleased when the U.S. Customs and U.S. Immigration agencies agreed to buy-in. FAST is an extension of CSA with some twists, because we are two countries.

With regard to NEXUS, both Canada and the U.S. had experimented for years in pre-approving travellers in a number of ways. By putting it together, it is a true bilateral exercise. It is not one country imposing its ways on the other.

API/PNR is another example a truly bilateral effort. We are not sharing all the information about all the travellers coming to Canada with the U.S. However, we thought that it was in our interest to share information about high-risk travellers with the U.S. Given that we want to retain as much fluidity as possible at our joint border, we want to know about the high-risk people that come from other shores. This enables us to keep the border as open as possible even with a large number of people crossing it.

All the programs that I talked about are truly joint programs that are beneficial to both countries and they were developed just as much by us as by the U.S.

Senator Cordy: I thought when Canada and the U.S. had advance passenger information, it was only in regard to passengers who came across the borders of the two countries. However, are you saying that we are also sharing information of high-risk individuals who may come from other shores?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes.

Senator Cordy: I did not know that.

Mr. Lefebvre: It is about all travellers arriving in Canada and all travellers arriving in the U.S. We are developing a system whereby we can identify the high-risk travellers and we will share that information with the other country to the extent that it can be useful for the other country to do their work.

Senator Banks: You talk about identifying high-risk travellers who arrive in North America from wherever or who travel between the two countries. I know better than to ask you how that is done, and I am sure there are myriad ways in which it is done. However, there are many people who say that, among the ways that it is done is something that amounts to racial profiling. How would you answer that?

Mr. Lefebvre: There is no racial profiling. However, the place from which you are coming, regardless of your race, may be a factor. There may be other factors as well, but the factors are not based on race or religion. Mr. Connolly may want to expand on this.

Mr. Mark Connolly, Director General, Contraband and Intelligence Services Directorate, Customs Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue: Certainly, I will not disclose all of the techniques that we use, but origin is definitely a factor when looking at source countries for narcotics and other contraband, or illegal immigrants and terrorists, could be from a particular country. The way they travel, the way they purchase their ticket, with whom they travel — those are some of the factors that come into play.

Senator Banks: I do not want you to tell us any factors beyond dealing with the question of racial profiling.

Mr. Connolly: Race and religion are not factors we use. They are not in our criteria anywhere. In the past we have been asked to share our criteria or elements of our criteria with the Human Rights Commission. We have done so to satisfy any concerns they might have that we are targeting on the basis of race, religion or any ethnicity, and we are not.

Senator Banks: Therefore, somebody coming here from a country of interest, regardless of how they look, who they worship and what colour they are, will receive the same initial interest on the basis of their point of embarkation?

Mr. Connolly: It is never one factor. It is usually a combination of factors but, yes, country of origin would be a factor.

Senator Forrestall: I have many questions. I do not understand half the acronyms that you use. Can we see a copy of an application form for these two principal programs so that we might be aware of what you ask or who does the checking?

Mr. Lefebvre: For NEXUS, it is travellers. There is an application form for travellers that has been devised jointly with the U.S. We have instructions on how to do this. It can be done on the Internet. At the end of the process, we call you for an interview at an enrolment centre. You have a final face-to-face interview, and you have the taking of two digits for NEXUS that are processed for security checks.

Senator Forrestall: Do not waste your time with me.

Mr. Lefebvre: For the FAST process, I will provide you with the application. The FAST process involves any of three kinds of participants — the importer, the carrier and the driver. You have three potential sources of risk.

Senator Forrestall: Not the seller?

Mr. Lefebvre: No. We approve the importer. There are two requirements for the importer. We want to be satisfied that importers will meet their customs obligations. We want them to have books and records, because we will not check every shipment. However, we want to know at the end of the month that they fully and properly report to meet all their customs obligations. We have to approve them, and verify that their track record in meeting customs obligations is high. WE also ask importers to be approved for our Partners in Protection Program. We require them to have some security standards within their organization with respect to the recruitment and training of personnel, physical security, and control of inventory that will meet high standards. That is necessary to approve the importer.

The carrier is similar. We want to ensure their books and records are such that they can properly meet their customs obligations; and we also ask the carriers to have a level of security in respect of the way they control their inventory, their vehicles, the recruitment of their staff and so on to provide for a high level of security.

Finally, there is the driver. The approval for the driver is very similar, if not identical, to the NEXUS application. There are some small differences, however, and we will provide the committee with the application forms.

Senator Forrestall: I was not encouraged by your comments about the away-from-the-border clearance. Is there a particular problem with that? Is it something as simple as space, or organization of highways or railways for that type of pre-clearance?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is important to mention that it is not necessarily a panacea to have the right to do your customs work on the other side. However, in some locations, such as small ports, it would be advantageous if we could put the building on one side or the other. It can be advantageous for health and safety. At major ports, you can have some urban developments on one side that prevent expansion of a proper plaza and so on. From an operational perspective, it would be advantageous to have a legal framework to enable us to work on the American side and vice versa, or to have both located on one side or the other because of infrastructure and other reasons.

We have that very thing with airports, which is convenient for us. When you want to go to the U.S, you have U.S. pre-clearance at immigration and customs in our airports in Canada.

We have developed a legal framework, where U.S. customs officers can do customs and immigration pre-clearance in Canada. The U.S. does not want the same framework to apply at the land border. For example, for arrest or seizure, they want full powers that would permit them to work in Canada as if they were in the U.S., whereas our air Preclearance Act forces the U.S. to work with Canadian authorities. Some of those procedures were turned over to Canadians because of Charter issues or sovereignty issues. It is quite different when the U.S. wants to have full authority to work in Canada as if they were in the U.S., for instance, to arrest a Canadian without any recourse or protection whatsoever, and to bring them to the States.

We have encountered some difficult legal issues, which have not yet been overcome.

Senator Forrestall: Has that authority not been extended?

Mr. Lefebvre: No.

Senator Forrestall: A U.S. customs officer may not carry a gun or arrest someone and hold him or her? They must use Canadian authority, that is, an RCMP or special constable.

Mr. Lefebvre: In the airport model, that is the case. It can be Canada Customs, but it must be a Canadian authority.

Senator Forrestall: There is no problem there, because there are peace officers and police officers there, so there is a competent police authority. However, there would not necessarily be at the border.

I see that you have problems. You are trying to work them out and do so without giving away too much. The problems that flow from that, I would think, would be horrendous.

Am I right that nothing is put in place until both Canada and the United States agree?

Mr. Lefebvre: Correct.

Senator Forrestall: Are we putting these ideas forward on our own, or is the United States also putting forth ideas? Are we adopting some of their suggestions and they some of ours?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is very much a joint process. We now have working groups trying to resolve just about any issue that surfaces. I think that the problems are common and the solutions are also joint solutions.

You will recall that very shortly after 9/11, both the president and the Prime Minister stated that they wanted to ensure security and economic security. When FAST was opened late last year, the Prime Minister and the president met to open the program in Detroit. There again, they stated that they were determined to keep the border safe but open.

The challenge is the same on both sides of the border, so we are working towards joint solutions.

Senator Forrestall: Are you happy with the relationship?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes.

Senator Forrestall: Can I ask you several questions, including one that has been bothering me for three or four weeks now? You will recall we had a major drug interception in the port of Halifax, coincident with half of the cabinet being there to receive money to enhance this kind of work on the scene. Could you tell me just who found those drugs?

I am talking about this debate between organized labour in the port of Halifax and the four or five different groups that want to claim credit.

Mr. Lefebvre: The container was targeted before it arrived.

Senator Forrestall: You knew it was going to be there. Yes or no?

Mr. Lefebvre: Pardon me?

Senator Forrestall: Did you?

Mr. Lefebvre: It was targeted, because we had information that this was a high-risk container before it arrived.

Senator Forrestall: You knew when it was going to be there?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes, and when it was there, it was examined.

Senator Forrestall: It was very convenient to have everyone there to take the credit for it.

Mr. Lefebvre: You are implying that this was a planned event. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Senator Forrestall: It is quite coincidental that the four or five ministers and their staff were there.

Mr. Lefebvre: We do major seizures all the time. It just happened it was in Halifax at that time.

Senator Forrestall: Thank God you do. I am not debating that. I just wonder how we could have such a controversy arise over that issue.

In any event, it was targeted. That is what interests me. Was that a direct result of the exchange of information with our United States counterparts, or British or other intelligence agencies with which we share information? What country did we receive that information from, or was it from other sources?

Mr. Lefebvre: I know that it was targeted before it arrived. Frankly, I do not have the information that you are asking. I do not know, Mr. Connolly was away.

Senator Forrestall: If you cannot tell me, that is fine. I just wondered whether it was an international police organization or whether it was Canadian intelligence services abroad or some other means.

Mr. Lefebvre: We do exchange information with other customs and other organizations around the world; that is our business. Therefore, any information we can receive that will help us, and we help other customs' administrations, as well. When we have useful information, we will share it with other customs administrations.

Senator Forrestall: Do we share information with countries that do not share with us?

Mr. Lefebvre: With many countries, we have mutual assistance agreements that enable us in a very organized way to help each other do our jobs. If we did not have that sort of arrangement with other organizations, people could easily get around us. We have the necessary agreements in place with other customs administrations around the world to exchange information, to do our job better.

Senator Forrestall: This was a customs targeting; it was not CSIS or some other organization?

Mr. Lefebvre: When other law enforcement agencies have information about a shipment or a person enroute to Canada, they will share that information with us. We have the systems in place now to alert our front line to the potential arrival of such a shipment or person. We have very good tools to bring to the front lines, so we do intercept those people and shipments.

Senator Forrestall: Is there enough money being invested in this type of help?

Mr. Lefebvre: In recent years, we have invested on a number of fronts. I am sure Mr. Warren can add to this. I will say that, at our front line at all airports, every customs officer in a PIL, or primary inspection line booth, has a passport reader. We then have the systems to indicate whether that person should be referred to secondary as high-risk. We have made quite a few investments in technology and systems.

Mr. Earle Warren, Director General, Major Projects Design and Development Directorate, Customs Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue: We had the Customs Action Plan, which preceded 9/11, which resulted in additional funding in excess of $100 million. In last year's budget, there was more than $400 million for customs to invest in technology and in additional resources that are dedicated to this.

Senator Forrestall: I have to chuckle when you are talking about speeding things up. I do not know how you speed things up between Calais and St. Stephen unless you build another bridge. How many other similar places where a lot of the problems are physical, there is limited space coming into a funnel, and the funnel in this case being the main street of St. Stephen? They are backed up to the Irving Oil Station two and a half miles away, and you wonder if there is an accident.

Is that type of problem a common one?

Mr. Lefebvre: The border infrastructure fund is another area in which work must be done. For customs and immigration processes, that is just one issue that must be addressed. However, you are quite right, in many areas infrastructure is quite important if we want to be really successful. The recent joint announcement by the Prime Minister and Premier Eves to invest $300 million in Windsor is indicative of the fact that a bridge is a bridge wherever and can be a bottleneck. It is the same thing with highways.

Senator Forrestall: We could consider spending joint funds with our American friends to relieve part of this.

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes, in the Windsor area, it is a good example. There is a binational process in place, knowing there is no point in connecting a bridge with a major highway in Canada if it just dumps trucks in downtown Detroit. It is a joint bilateral process that we hope will resolve the situation globally.

Senator Day: Just following up with respect to my colleague, Senator Forrestall's question in regard to the Calais-St. Stephen border crossing, you that that would be one of the border crossings where you anticipate having a single joint point of checking.

The parties on both the U.S. and Canada sides, the Canadian side have agreed on where the bridge should be. I hope that in their planning process they also know they only need one checking point instead of two. You may want to make sure that that information is communicated to them. I will do likewise when I am talking to them. That is an important bit of information that they should have.

Mr. Lefebvre: There is a river. Therefore, since we do not have the legal authority to work on the U.S. side, I am not sure about the point you want to make that we should be together.

Senator Day: Did you not say that in your remarks here today?

Mr. Lefebvre: No.

Senator Day: Will you not have a joint checking point that is combined Canada-U.S.?

Mr. Lefebvre: Not at that location because there is a river in between the two places. The joint ports that we have are normally on the land borders where you can build two buildings and join them together. Physically you put a glass in between the two.

Senator Day: Your brief says that Canada and the U.S. have "aagreed to consider the following locations for joint or shared facilities pending the outcome of feasibility studies: St. Stephen, NB/Calais, ME.'' Are you just learning that there is a river between the two now? I am glad you came here. That is the one where Champlain stayed in 1604 and lost all his men on the island. That, of course, is another story.

Maybe you could check into that. We would be quite interested because it is a huge bottleneck for the entire Maritime province north-south trade between Canada and the United States. As Senator Forrestall has pointed out, it is very important to us.

I would like to ask you how trade generally is between Canada and the United States at all the border crossings. I am thinking primarily of trucking at this time. Are we back to roughly the same level of delays pre-September 11, 2001, now?

Mr. Lefebvre: I am pleased to report that, yes, for some time the traveller traffic was lower. Trucks have been roughly at the same place for some time now, but passenger traffic was still lower. However, overall we are basically where we were before, globally, but there are several major crossings where travelling passengers are quite a bit down. That is case for maybe two crossings.

Senator Day: The objective is obviously as trade increases to allow for a freer, faster flow of trade back and forth, having always in mind the importance of security for both parties.

Mr. Lefebvre: Absolutely.

Senator Day: Referring to the shipping container security — I cannot remember the name of your acronym or trademark for the gamma ray devices you are putting into all of the ports — did you tell us about that? Will that increase the number of containers that you will be able to target without slowing down the processing of those containers?

Mr. Lefebvre: Indeed it will. I did not mention any numbers, but it is much easier to process a container through a scanner than to either open it on the dock or to transport it to a warehouse, where it is opened and de-stuffed. It applies equally well to full and empty containers, because empty containers can have some places in them that have been built to conceal contraband. The scanners will enable us to look through into many more containers than we ever did before.

Senator Day: If we define efficiency as an increase in the number of containers scanned per unit of time, do you have any records that you can share with us with respect to the ports where you now have the gamma radiation equipment in place versus what it was previously? My understanding was it was about 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent of the containers.

Mr. Lefebvre: Traditionally in our ports we had what we call a "atailgate examination,'' where we would open the back of the container on the port and send the dog up top or make a visual inspection or use some instruments. In some cases, we would fully unload the container after taking it to the warehouse. Few than 1 per cent of the cases at ports required full unloading, and possibly twice that amount for tailgate inspections.

Now the VACIS machine can scan a container in five seconds, so as containers come down we can target a larger number. You have to handle the container to put it in the place where the VACIS machine will scan, but it is a minimal imposition compared with traditional methods.

Of course, the scanner can lead you to want to unload a number of containers. It is not a guarantee that that container can go because depending on what you see you may want to refer it for de-stuffing or unloading, but the process will be more efficient because we will only unload when there is a good reason.

Senator Day: What percentage of containers do you think will be inspected now?

Mr. Lefebvre: Our containers arrived in Halifax. It has only been in place a few weeks. We will have to build our expertise in that domain. I know there will be more. Right now the division is, on average, 1 per cent full unloading, 2 per cent tailgate, with this maybe we can hit 6 per cent.

Senator Day: Is it too soon for you to give me an indication of what you have learned thus far?

Mr. Lefebvre: We would probably be able to scan 100 containers a day, whereas, when you do the full unloading you check perhaps a handful.

Senator Day: Is it a matter of money? Do you need more of these machines in each port so that you could do this job the way you would like to do it?

Mr. Lefebvre: We bought 11 that will be delivered over the next few months. We will have two of these machines Montreal because of the size of the port. We will have three in Vancouver because they have three different terminals.

Senator Forrestall: If you do not put three in Halifax, there will be war. We are bigger than Montreal.

Mr. Lefebvre: I am totally in agreement with your request, senator, if the Port of Halifax purchases one of the machines. The Port of Vancouver has bought its own VACIS machine. I believe Halifax will have two machines, but we will also have two in southern Ontario, as I mentioned. For the moment, we feel that we are well equipped with 11 mobile machines. We also bought the pallet scanners. In terms of heavy-duty equipment, we are well positioned for the near future.

Senator Meighen: Have you done any sensitivity studies to determine, in a perfect world, what would be the optimum percentage? The optimum percentage would theoretically be 100 per cent to scan; is that correct?

Mr. Lefebvre: Our whole purpose is to have a Smart Border and to use risk management. For instance, I will return to the subject of the trucks for a moment. We ask importers who want to be approved for FAST to control their inventory, the manpower they hire and to have procedures to protect their physical plant. If you want to have VACIS on every truck, that is not working smartly. Even if it is easier to scan a truck, there is still the cost of manpower for the clients and for us. There is a point when you do some risk management where the risk is so low that any procedure is not necessary.

For instance, we have major automobile and automobile parts manufacturers here. Once they are partners with us in controlling the security procedures, to require every truck to undergo a scanning procedure would be an unnecessary imposition. It would be the same for containers. We conduct risk assessments and have knowledge of what may be a high or even medium risk. To scan more, might be scanning very low risk.

Senator Meighen: That is my question. What is that level, 10 per cent, 8 per cent?

Mr. Lefebvre: In addition to scanning or examining high risk, we examine medium risk. We also examine containers at random that we have not targeted in all loads. From our experience, there is a point where you know whether it is worth going further or whether it is more or less futile. You can always say it is possible, but we are working in the art of risk management. We are not saying we must do everything that is possible, because then we would unload everything.

Senator Meighen: Was the number 10 totally governed by budgetary constraints, or did you come up with the estimate that with 10 scanners you can probably reach an acceptable level of scanning?

Mr. Lefebvre: Our judgment is that with 11 scanners — and I think you may add the one purchased by the Port of Vancouver that we are operating — we feel that we have a scanner in all the major places where we have large volumes. We think we are well positioned for future.

Mr. Connolly: It is important to know that we use a number of different techniques — be they at a marine point of entry, an airport or a land border. We use various technologies at all of those locations, including large gamma ray mobile scanners, hand-held ionscans, the pallet X-ray equipment and other types of X-ray equipment that we use, or our rolling container X-rays that were designed by personnel in Canada. The Americans have asked to adopt part of our design as well.

We use varying types of technology because not any one tool is good for everything. Each tool has its purpose and each tool can give you certain images and may require you to do more detailed examination or a different type of scan. We use dogs. There is vapour technology. There are so many different types of technology that we use in the selection of containers or conveyances for a further detailed examination.

Finally, we have our targeting capabilities. Our targeting units for all the modes of transport throughout Canada that are well-trained. We have shared our practices on targeting with Americans, who use similar techniques to us and in some cases the exact same techniques as us.

We determine risk by adding all those things together — the mode, the port, the company and so forth. We cannot say that at some ports, it is 2 per cent or 5 per cent; these figures vary and are driven by risk. One port may have a higher examination rate than another port and it may have a higher examination rate where a port has a high risk for a particular commodity, whether that is cocaine, heroin or any other type of drug. Some drugs move by different modes of transport. That is why we employ different types of technology and targeting.

At some locations, we strive for what I will call ideals, but the ideals are based on the risk assessments that we do on a regular basis, annually, at both the local, port and headquarters level. We gather other information into those assessments with our partners, whether the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, other intelligence agencies or customs agencies.

Senator Meighen: That is very helpful. May I conclude that with the addition of the 11 scanners and the targeting that you do, along with all the other techniques you have just described, that the level of security at our ports is, in your view and that of your colleagues, at a satisfactory level? More particularly, in reference to Senator Banks' question, may we look our American friends in the eye when we go to Washington to say that, "aYes, we are doing better than adequate checking.''? The last time we were in Washington, there was an insinuation that if they were not satisfied with the checking going on in Halifax, they could possibly consider preventing trans-shipment.

Mr. Lefebvre: Senator, you may make that statement without any doubt.

The Chairman: It was helpful last time to be able to talk about back-ending and de-stuffing. We talked about a 3 per cent figure while they were operating at 2 per cent across the board. We had a 50 per cent better number, and that was enough to quiet people. We were also able to talk about the number of customs officers on the border. We had a significantly higher number than they if one did a natural count.

It would be helpful if you could provide this committee in the next few weeks with specific data in that regard. For example, do you expect we will be able to use the VACIS equipment at 5 per cent? If so, will that be matched by the Americans? The more specific information we can have, the better, because we are dealing with headlines such as "aU.S. faults Canada for letting drugs across the border.'' To be able to respond to a congressional colleague with something specific and concrete would be of great assistance.

Mr. Lefebvre: If drugs get through the border to the U.S., that is not our fault.

The Chairman: I understand that clearly. The question is what sort of job their customs is doing. Having said that, it is very nice for us to be able to respond about exactly how we compare. If you can assist us in that regard, we would be grateful.

Senator Day: I was in the U.S. last weekend when they made a major seizure of drugs. The news reported that the flow was from Colombia, through Montreal, and down into the U.S. That will happen again. That is our partially our problem. It went through their border, and they found it. However, it came through our border before it went to theirs. That is the kind of thing with which we are confronted. We would appreciate whatever information you can give us to help us in that regard.

Previously we learned that the U.S. had so many agencies involved in various forms of information gathering that, along with our several, it was difficult to trade information that was helpful to both sides at the border. Has the unified command and Governor Ridge's homeland security unification package resulted in a clear change in terms of the ability to beneficially exchange meaningful information?

Mr. Lefebvre: First, the homeland security is still in its infancy. The greater closeness that customs, the RCMP and other agencies in Canada and in the U.S. have developed has caused a number of vehicles to be put in place to better exchange information in general.

Senator Banks was saying that people in Washington do not think highly of Canada. However, among the people who work in these agencies there is a lot of respect for our ability in Canada to work as true professionals. The greater closeness that has developed in the last couple of years has brought about greater trust and more exchange of information than existed in the past.

Mr. Connolly: Certainly since 9/11, and since we have been working on the 30-point Action Plan for the Smart Border, we have developed with our counterparts in the United States common criteria for risk and threat assessments. We have used the best tools of both sides to develop and put in place mechanisms to assess risk and threat. In fact, we have done a number of joint risk assessments together already.

In terms of our cooperation and exchange of information, prior to September 11 our relationship was very strong and we had good information exchange on the intelligence side with our counterparts in the United States, and that still exists. It was acknowledged post 9/11 that we had good relationships to exchange information.

Mr. Lefebvre: I failed to mention that as part of the Smart Border Declaration we created IBETS, which are integrated border enforcement teams. I believe that 11 have been or will be put in place across the country. In order for those integrated teams to work well, we need to exchange information and work in an integrated way. That is another development that will bring about better exchange of information among all agencies.

Senator Day: Is that a result of September 11?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is one of the points in the 30-Point Plan.

Senator Cordy: Thank you for updating us on the Smart Border Declaration and giving us a sense of how the $400 million from last year's budget for customs is being spent at the border.

You talked about CANPASS Air and NEXUS Air, both of which are to start soon. CANPASS Air will be in Canadian airports for people flying into Canada?

Mr. Lefebvre: Both will be in Canadian airports. We want to roll CANPASS Air out in all major Canadian airports. It will be for people coming to Canada.

We will pilot NEXUS Air at Ottawa and Dorval. It is basically CANPASS Air, but going both ways. If someone wants to be a member of CANPASS Air in Ottawa, we will ask that applicant whether he or she wants to be part of the pilot for NEXUS Air. Persons wishing to participate will be approved by the Americans when NEXUS is piloted. For example, these people will be able to make a business trip from Ottawa to the U.S. and return without talking to any customs or immigration officers.

Senator Cordy: It will be just Canada-United States?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes. CANPASS will be used by Canadians or Americans coming to Canada.

Senator Cordy: You will utilize biometrics in both cases?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes.

Senator Cordy: We are now getting advance passenger information. Starting on March 30, we will have passenger name record. What additional information will a passenger name record give you that advance passenger information does not?

Mr. Lefebvre: Advance passenger information is basically the tombstone — your name, your passport number and such information — that you give at the counter when you purchase a plane ticket. The PNR — the passenger name record — comes from the airline's registration system, which includes the travel agency used and other connections made on that trip, as opposed to only name, passport number and so on. It gives more information about the overall trip from the airline's reservation system.

Senator Cordy: Advance passenger information would give you only the point at which the passenger boarded the plane they are currently on, whereas passenger name record would give you country of origin?

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes.

Senator Cordy: With regard to commercial shipments, the U.S. recently proposed advance reporting time frames. I gather that we are not jumping for joy at these because of the major impact that it would have. Would you give us more detail and explain that?

Mr. Lefebvre: I think the genesis is the fact that the U.S. is looking at all routes, and they want the advance information so they can target high-risk shipments. They started with CSI, whereby they want to have all information about containers coming to the U.S. 24 hours prior to landing. That was discussed with a number of countries, and they passed a regulation that became effective early this month.

Now they are turning their sights to other modes and they want advance information about trucks, airplanes and trains going into the U.S. Two or three weeks ago, they had a meeting with hundreds of business people, telling them they planned to ask for information for trucks four hours in advance, for plane eight hours in advance, and for trains 24 hours in advance.

Senator Cordy: What do you mean by "ain advance?''

Mr. Lefebvre: In advance of either loading or reaching the border. Industry in both Canada and the U.S. reacted very strongly because, for instance, in the just-in-time inventory world in which we live, in the automotive industry, in areas such as Windsor and other places, very often there is a one- or two-hour turnaround time for loading on a truck. Four hours just is not possible with the way business works today. It would require some major changes in the way business works and it would quite likely clog the border very badly.

They are considering seriously the comments they have received from businesses. We hope that their next proposal will be something we can all live with.

Senator Cordy: It is something that we are working on with them. They are obviously coming up with it.

Mr. Lefebvre: We were particularly concerned that this four-hour notice for shipments by trucks would apply to trucks that had been approved under the FAST regime. In our view, it would have basically killed the program. We are hopeful and somewhat confident that the FAST trucks will be exempted from the four-hour rule, although we have not yet received final confirmation. It is a concern, and we are certainly working with them.

Rail is another example. They wanted 24 hours for advance reporting. In some cases, our railways would have no problem giving information in that time frame. A train might be out west for two days before reaching the American border. In other cases, a truck that arrives at a hub and gets on a train, so the 24 hours period is not there. Discussions are ongoing.

Senator Cordy: In New Brunswick, we do not have the FAST trucks as of yet. That would certainly play havoc with some of the industries close to the border on the east coast.

I am wondering about the container security initiatives and the fact that we do have U.S. people at the Halifax port. How do the targeting teams work together in the Halifax, for example, with the Canadians and Americans working together?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is working well from our point of view and also from the U.S. point of view. The American teams in Halifax, for instance, focus on shipments that are in transit to the U.S. They do not focus on all containers. Containers coming to Canada are our principal focus, whereas they focus on containers in transit. Therefore, they work together, but their principal focus is different.

Senator Cordy: Their concern is not the containers coming into Halifax; it is the containers just stopping over in Halifax on their way to the eastern seaboard?

Mr. Lefebvre: They may be unloaded in Halifax and loaded on a train going to the U.S.

Senator Cordy: Thank you.

Senator Atkins: I assume that one of the other problems is perishable goods. That would be a major concern with four-hour notices.

Mr. Warren: One other aspect of this is that when we look at, for example, the automotive industry, they currently give notification 15 minutes in advance. Much of that is related to the fact that you are talking about Detroit-Windsor. When you look at perishables, it may be 24 hours from when they leave Texas or California before they arrive at the border. Therefore, to give advance notification of that is not the same problem for the industry in terms of the timelines. The biggest sensitivity is around just-in-time inventory where it is concentrated right at the border in communities on both sides.

Senator Atkins: I gather much of it relates to inventory, especially in the automobile industry.

We have not talked about offshore inspection of containers. What kind of equipment do you use for that, or do you use any? How do you mark those when they are coming in to the port in Halifax?

Mr. Lefebvre: Whether it is offshore from the U.S., if a container is coming to Halifax from overseas, we will usually receive the manifest in advance. It can go up to 96 hours ahead of time right now. Now we may move farther. We have the time in advance to target the containers. As they arrive, we ask that they be unloaded for inspection.

Senator Atkins: That manifest would indicate what port a container is shipped from. Does it extend beyond that to where that container may have come from before it reached that overseas port?

Mr. Connolly: We certainly have access to systems within the maritime industry that give us indication on routings and things of that nature. As an example, perhaps a shipment came from Karachi, Pakistan via South Africa and then to the port of Lahore before it was loaded on a final ship that came to Canada. That routing would be included in the information we would get.

We would have an indication of the routing, the container number, the contents and what ship it will be coming on. We get that data in advance. Today we get it four to five days in advance; sometimes longer, depending on the company. That allows us to target based on a number of factors. If it is a very high risk, we are waiting for that shipment when it arrives at the dock to take the container off.

Senator Atkins: Might these be more targeted than something that may originate elsewhere?

Mr. Connolly: We target every container coming into Canada today.

Mr. Lefebvre: Your point is well taken, senator. From the outset in our discussions with our colleagues in the U.S., we have agreed about containers coming from elsewhere. For the last year and one-half, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction have been the highest priority. We have agreed that our seaports and our airports require more effort on our part than our land border. In terms of risk management, we think that the risks are higher there than for our land border. We have put more resources there for that reason.

Senator Atkins: On another subject, have you a sense that, because of the difficulties, Canada is at risk of losing a certain amount of import business or business generally? For example, there is a concern in Vancouver that the cruise ship lines will start originating from Seattle rather than from Vancouver. They blame the problems of customs and immigration as part of the reason why that change is taking place.

Mr. Lefebvre: To take Vancouver as an example, our processing of people that want to take a cruise trip or arriving on a cruise trip is absolutely exemplary. We have worked for years with the cruise ship industry to ensure that we do our work with a minimum interference with the passengers. I do not think this has been an issue with the cruise ships.

In terms of investments in general, the purpose of our new programs such as FAST is to assure to investors that the border should not be a factor in their investments. The fact that the Americans join in programs such as FAST gives a great deal of comfort to potential investors. They are confident that the border is open and that it will remain so. This is also supported by the investments that we are about to make in the infrastructure to ensure that the border is as fluid in the future as it has been in the past and even better.

Senator Forrestall: With respect to containers, what about freight bulk?

Mr. Lefebvre: We have information about the crew on the ship ahead of time. Again, for bulk, it is a matter of targeting and information and risk management. Please feel free to boast in Washington about the Marine Centre we have in Halifax. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has a school in Halifax to teach officers how to search ships. There are only a couple of customs administrations in the world that have that. We have an excellent reputation. We have students from other customs administrations. We would love to have U.S. customs officers attend there to follow the course. They do not have anything close to it. In that regard, I think that we are ahead.

Senator Atkins: Last week, the hotel association had their meeting here. Some of the delegates expressed their concern about tourism trade that is resulting from this polarization that is taking place over Iraq. Canadians are now experiencing a different attitude with some of the customs and immigration people on the other side of the border. Are you aware of that?

Mr. Lefebvre: There are a number of phenomena because of what is happening. One phenomenon is that Canadians are visiting Canada more than ever before.

Senator Atkins: Americans?

Mr. Lefebvre: No, Canadians are vacationing in Canada more than ever before, which is good. Indeed, the events that we know about may have influenced the behaviour of Americans and the way they travel.

Senator Atkins: I am saying that on the ground, there is currently a view of Canada's position on the whole Iraqi situation. There is an anti-Canadianism view that is emerging a little south of the border. It is affecting the number of people that are coming here.

Mr. Lefebvre: There may be a number of factors influencing why Americans may be travelling less abroad than they used to. I would not know about that, senator.

It is no secret that border communities such as Windsor, where a casino is still a big draw for Americans, have lost a lot of business because Americans are less inclined to cross a bridge to another country. They want to stay closer to home for whatever reason. There are a number of visits that are no longer made for a number of reasons.

Senator Atkins: In view of the number of reserves and national guards that are being called up. News reports indicate that they are being culled from the FBI and from the police. Are they also taking them from their customs and immigration people?

Mr. Lefebvre: The National Guard was called to assist following 9/11, but the contracts they had to assist terminated some time ago. Customs and immigration have received some additional resources and they are in the process of ramping up to train the new officers. I do not think that the National Guard is assisting anywhere. On the Canadian border, it is strictly Canada Customs and Immigration Canada officers.

Senator Atkins: If you had your choice, would you have the port police or other policing authorities at the port sites?

Mr. Lefebvre: I think that customs is very much involved in security. However, customs is much more than just police work; we are involved in health security, environment security and economic security, for example, keeping the border open and ensuring a level playing field for our businesses. We have good experience. If there is a need for police support, we have a good relationship with all police jurisdictions along the border.

Senator Atkins: It does not matter to you which force is on the port managing the policing?

Mr. Lefebvre: We have excellent relationship with all police jurisdictions.

The Chairman: Mr. Lefebvre, you were talking earlier about the FAST lane. How does the agency satisfy itself that the FAST lane has safe people in it and that they stay safe? How do you assure yourself they do not become corrupted or are not subjected to coercion and you will not have people take advantage of the FAST lane to expedite their travel across the border?

Mr. Lefebvre: We talk to people who are not on the FAST lane, but we do not send everyone to secondary. Everyone can always take advantage of any situation. However, people in the FAST lanes will be referred at random to secondary. If they do not play by the rules, they will lose their privileges and they will have their names in our system so we can refer them to secondary subsequently. We have not lost the powers we have at the border to stop someone and do a secondary examination. That will be one of the principal tools.

Once individuals are approved, they are on our system because we have done a security check and we believe that they are a low risk. If, after they are approved, information is provided to us that indicates that they are not low-risk, for whatever reason, then we have the ability to withdraw the pre-approval privileges at any time.

The Chairman: What constitutes a security check? We have been hearing, at some length, about security checks for airport personnel — CPIC check, CSIS check and residence check — once every five years, perhaps, but not necessarily.

Mr. Lefebvre: Four agencies negotiated security checks with the Americans. All airport personnel will receive security checks. One of those is the NEXUS program, which involves a two-digit fingerprint. If someone has a dossier, that will be an issue.

We also check five years' of residency. One of our goals was to ensure that the people who are approved are well rooted in their respective communities. We also look at employment history and records, customs records, immigration records, and records of other agencies. All of this culminates in a face-to-face interview with a customs officer or with an immigration officer but usually with a customs officer.

All in all, this gives us many ways to assure ourselves that a person is low-risk. It is open to both American and Canadian citizens. At the end of the day, Canadian officers interview Americans and American officers interview Canadians.

The Chairman: We have the frightening words "aEnhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act.'' What can you tell us about that act and how will it impact on Canadians if the Americans do not significantly increase their resources at the border?

Mr. Lefebvre: This act is not —

The Chairman: The act has been passed and is due to come into effect next year.

Mr. Lefebvre: I prefer that the agency in charge of the act comment on it.

The Chairman: That will be an American agency.

Mr. Lefebvre: Yes, with apologies, could you elaborate on the act?

The Chairman: It is the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act that requires everyone crossing an American border to register upon entry to the U.S. and again on departure from the U.S.

Mr. Lefebvre: Our agency does not have the lead in discussions with Americans on this act. However, it is certainly a concern that is taken seriously. We are quite prepared to help in negotiating a resolution to this issue. Certainly, we have been apprised of the results of the suggestions made by the task force and by the subcommittees of the task force. A subcommittee on the northern border produced a report in which they recommended exempting Canadians and suggested that we use our controls at CCRA to make this a process that would not congest the border. We are hopeful that we will find a resolution that will allow our border to continue to be fluid and the Americans to achieve their security goals.

The Chairman: I understand that, Mr. Lefebvre. My understanding is that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs is the lead agency on this issue. Is that correct?

Mr. Lefebvre: I am not certain of that.

The Chairman: I asked you the question because CCRA has the experience administering borders. If CCRA had a similar system in Canada, how would it slow down the system? What would happen if we did the same thing? How many more customs officers would CCRA require to keep the flow across the border the same and still collect that level of information from everyone crossing?

Mr. Lefebvre: It depends, senator, on a number of factors that have not been decided upon yet. If Canadians are exempt then, at our joint border, you are talking about .78 per cent of third-party nationals that cross the border. That is a small number. Such a system could be much more easily managed if Canadians were included in the process that we are talking about.

The Chairman: The legislation does not exempt Canadians. Therefore, the question to you is: Tell us what the problems will be if Canadians are not exempted, please. That is what we want to know before we go to the United States.

Mr. Lefebvre: If Canadians are not exempted, it is difficult to see how such a system could not create major congestion at the border.

The Chairman: If you had to manage a similar system, what multiple of time would we have in terms of waiting for people to cross the border, if you had the same resources?

Mr. Lefebvre: It would require some major investments and it would create long waiting times at the border.

The Chairman: If CCRA doubled its resources, would it solve the problem or would you have to triple or quadruple the resources to do that?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is difficult to say but it would be a major undertaking.

The Chairman: Has your office undertaken a study of how long the delays would be?

Mr. Lefebvre: It is a bit early to do such a study, although we can say, without any hesitation, that if Canadians were caught in this, it would create major problems that are unacceptable. We know that much. Until we have received further information on the shape of these controls and who will be subject to them, it is difficult to pass any definitive judgment on what might happen.

The Chairman: We are still some weeks away from going to Washington, but we would appreciate if you were to keep this as a watching file. We would also appreciate it if you could provide us with more information on what our assessment would be if we had to put a similar system in place: how many more resources would be required to keep the border open and functioning; and how much delay would be involved. That would be helpful.

Finally, Mr. Lefebvre, coming back to the passenger name recognition information, whereby information is collected on traveller's name, date of birth, sex, citizenship, nationality, passport number, destinations, who the traveller sat with, what other places the traveller went to and how many bags were checked. That information is to be kept for six years. With whom does CCRA share this information? What confidence do you have that this information will be put to use? How will the information be used?

Mr. Lefebvre: We collect that information, principally, so that we are able to target people who come to Canada. That is one of the functions of customs.

We will keep the information to assist us in performing our primary function of allowing people to enter Canada or to identify inadmissible people trying to enter Canada. We need information that enables us to develop the targeting factors that we have mentioned. We have an intelligence function that supports the creation of high-risk targets, and so on. Thus, we need to retain the information.

We keep information for six years in other customs enforcement data banks. Perhaps it could have been five years or seven years. Six is not a magic number but we were keeping it for our other data banks. We also agreed to exchange information with the U.S. on high-risk travellers. We had discussions with them, as part of the Smart Border Declaration, and we agreed that six years was the appropriate period of time to keep such information.

We collect the information for customs purposes and we retain it for customs purposes. If we caught a terrorist, we would probably want to know his or her travelling patterns and with whom he or she travelled last year. That information could be extremely useful. It would be irresponsible not to have that information when it is necessary.

The Chairman: I understood that, sir. My question was: Do you share it with CSIS or the RCMP?

Mr. Lefebvre: The way the act is written, we collect it and retain it for us. There is another section of the act that says that customs information, in general, can be shared for specific purposes. Information can be shared with police. It can be shared with provinces for specific programs prescribed in the act under conditions prescribed in the act. We can share with police when there is an investigation in respect of a major crime. There is question whether the police will need a warrant to get the information or can they just get it. We are looking into that to ensure that we are respectful of the Charter.

Perhaps the answer to your question is that this data bank is not available to others in a general way. It is our data bank for customs purposes and we will only share it in very specific cases that are specifically authorized by the statute.

The Chairman: I would like to thank the panel very much for appearing before us today. Your information has been very helpful, and you have assisted us greatly. I would like to ask if we could have our researchers come back to you with further questions between now and when we leave for Washington.

Mr. Lefebvre: Indeed.

The Chairman: We would appreciate that very much.

First responders are the men and women who first reach the scene of an emergency or disaster. They include the local police, firefighters, hazardous materials teams, paramedics, health workers and rescue workers. If the emergency or disaster is serious, the municipal first responders will be joined by non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, St. John's Ambulance and like groups, as well as by personnel and resources dispatched by provincial and federal governments.

The objectives of the committee are to evaluate: the contribution the federal government makes to the equipment and training of local first responders, who are mostly employees of municipalities; the access local officials have federal assessments of the vulnerability of critical local infrastructure to terrorist attack; and the access local officials have to federal assessments of the nature and level of national security threats to their communities. Other objectives are to evaluate the nature and quality of the resources the federal government can dispatch to help a local community deal with an emergency or disaster and how quickly these resources can be moved around the country and to suggest ways the federal contribution can be enhanced and its delivery made more efficient.

This committee began its study with a briefing by officials of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP. These officials gave the committee their opinion about the federal contribution. Since then, the committee has sought out the opinions of first responders themselves.

To date, the committee has heard from officials representing first responders in Toronto, and has visited first responders in Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Last week the committee heard from the City of Ottawa's chief medical officer. He briefed the committee about Ottawa's plans for dealing with acts of bio-terrorism, and the relationship of his office with officials at the provincial and federal levels of government.

A number of common problems are coming into focus for the committee. For example, first responders believe that they are shut out of the federal-provincial decision-making process. Many of them believe that they are poorly informed about the nature and extent of the national security threats they face. Some believe they are reasonably well- equipped and trained to deal initially with many natural disasters and serious transportation accidents, but lack the confidence in their ability to handle the threat of terrorism — particularly chemical, bacteriological, radiological and nuclear attacks — because they lack the necessary training and equipment.

The committee will now hear from Dr. Ron St. John, Executive Director of the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response. Dr. St. John, the floor is yours.

Dr. Ron St. John, Executive Director, Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Health Canada: I am grateful for the opportunity to appear before you. I trust you have all received a deck that outlines my comments tonight. With your permission, I will briefly review or comment on this deck regarding the roles and responsibilities in emergency preparedness and response in the health sector. I will touch on the status of emergency preparedness and response before September l1, together with some of the advances we have made in the past 16 months; and I will try to draw some conclusions.

In terms of roles and responsibilities, it is important to recognize that all levels of government across Canada provide emergency response services. The municipalities provide front line responders; these include, as you have noted, medical care personnel and public health personnel. For example, the emergency room doctor is considered by us to be a potential front line responder.

The provinces supplement the capacities of municipalities with necessary emergency medical services and emergency social services. Our federal role is to provide leadership in our health emergency preparedness activities and to support the municipal and provincial response efforts, principally through our relationships with provinces and territories.

Health Canada does this by providing emergency response planning, training and exercises, stockpiling — I will mentioned more about that later — emergency social services, surveillance systems, epidemiological investigation support, laboratory support, bio-terrorism response capacity and quarantine and migration health services. I would like to note that Health Canada has responded on many occasions in the past to provincial and territorial requests for support in responding to public health dimensions in all kinds of emergencies.

To improve our ability to carry out our responsibilities in emergency preparedness and response, Health Canada created the centre that I direct in July 2000 as a departmental resource. We were given two mandates, one of which is to provide certain program services. I will mention just a few of these.

We are responsible for the Quarantine Act. We are responsible for the importation permits for dangerous pathogens, as well as for laboratory safety across the country. We provide services in travel medicine for travelling Canadians for their protection overseas — and a long list of other services.

I would like to focus on our emergency preparedness and response activities, where our goal is to develop an integrated federal, provincial and territorial public health emergency preparedness disaster response capacity.

When the centre was first formed, we immediately looked at a classification system for disasters; and they fall rather neatly into two categories. Natural disasters are self-explanatory and I am fond of saying that this is the bread and butter of our centre. We know that there is 100 per cent probability of a natural disaster in Canada somewhere every year. Last fall, it was forest fires in Alberta that we were involved in. Before that, in 2001, it was the 47,000 passengers that were stranded in the Atlantic Provinces. We have a long history of response to familiar disasters, including the ice storm — and I could name many others.

The human-cause disasters we categorize as accidental because, from time to time, we do have the railway car that overturns and creates a chemical spill danger for the population. Finally, there is the malicious category encompassing the so-called CBRN — chemical, biological and radionuclear — agents that might be used in a terrorist attack.

We also look at four pillars of emergency response: prevention; preparedness for consequence management; response to consequences; and recovery. I have tried to indicate by the size of the letters the sectors I think are most heavily involved. For example, in prevention, security resources in the country are actively trying to increase our security and prevent an event from happening. The health component is rather low. We do have the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN. GPHIN provides real-time monitoring of all infectious disease outbreaks all over the world. It is a uniquely Canadian system developed over the last four years in collaboration with the World Health Organization. This system provides the World Health Organization with 45 per cent of all the information they have about what is going on in the world.

When it comes to preparedness for consequence management — in other words, when the security fails and something happens — the health sectors are heavily involved, as well as in the response to the consequences themselves.

We developed some basic planning premises in our centre. It is not particularly exciting, revealing or unusual to say that a CBRN event or other disaster is local, first and foremost. However, that premise must be established because it is important for municipalities to assume some responsibility for their response capacity. When that response capacity is exhausted at the municipal level, we expect municipalities to turn to the provinces for additional support. Subsequently, if the province's resources are exhausted, they turn to Health Canada.

Health Canada's role is supportive of the provinces and territories. We plan a federal response, which is to deliver everything we can and have anywhere in the country within 24 hours. We also plan for the rapid detection, diagnosis and response to an event. We have been building on the existing public health emergency services and infrastructures that already exist across the country. On page 6, you can see a schematic representation of that.

At the local level, municipal resources are assigned in response to an affected community, followed by provincial and Health Canada input. It is important to note that most public health emergencies are dealt with locally, without our involvement. Most CBRN events have been dealt with locally: the suspicious packages, the letters with powders, et cetera. Even the malicious release of a tear gas canister in the subway in Montreal did not involve us. City authorities were able to cope with that event. Federal involvement comes when those capacities are exceeded, for example, floods in Manitoba or Quebec, ice storms, et cetera.

In the past 16 months, we have made considerable advances in Health Canada. We organized those along the lines of an acronym we call SLOT — supplies, laboratory, organization and training. Under supplies, we added an antibiotic, chemical antidote, supplies and equipment to our national emergency stockpile system. This is a $330- million emergency supply of medical supplies — an entire system spread out across the country, consisting of seven warehouses, including a principal warehouse in Ottawa and 1,600 caches of emergency medical supplies, managed jointly by provinces and territories.

We reorganized our national emergency stockpile warehouse system to ensure it was strategically located to meet our 24-hour commitment. We have also established a new emergency operations centre in Health Canada, which is state-of-the-art.

In laboratories, the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Forum, created by our National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, has spearheaded a three-tiered rapid laboratory diagnosis system. The three tiers involve hospital labs across the country, the provincial public health labs and our level 4 laboratory in Winnipeg. In my own centre, we have a new level 3 biosafety lab, reconstructed to carry out our duties and functions for laboratory safety. We also have a stronger bioterrorism response capacity in laboratories across the country.

The Chairman: What is a level 3 lab?

Dr. St. John: Depending on the danger of the pathogen, laboratories are classified as level 2, 3, or 4. Each level requires an increasing level of sophistication for containing that laboratory and protecting the safety of the workers there. A level 2 lab is a routine diagnostic laboratory such as you might find in any hospital. A level 3 laboratory has a higher level of containment safety. All provincial laboratories are level 3. We have one level 4 laboratory in Winnipeg.

Senator Banks: There is no level 1.

Dr. St. John: There used to be, but not anymore. In our organization, we have enhanced our surveillance capacity for the biological agents on the Centre for Disease Control "aA'' list. We have improved our planning and exercising; for example, our Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan, for which Health Canada is the lead agency, has carried out numerous exercises in the recent past. A special example of our planning is the creation of a revised national smallpox contingency plan and a pandemic influenza plan. We have increased our counter-terrorism capacity in the centre by employing experts in the field. Our food and drug regulatory capacity has also improved.

In training, we have already carried out several training courses for public health first responders under the OCIPEP umbrella, in conjunction with six other partners.

On the federal, provincial and territorial level, I would like to mention that Health Canada has a long tradition of collaboration with provincial and territorial health jurisdictions. Shortly after September 11, the deputy ministers of health created a special task force on emergency preparedness and response. The taskforce tabled 31 recommendations after an exhaustive review of the health sector, last June. They tabled them with a three-year plan to implement those 31 recommendations, aimed at creating a seamless, collaborative and cooperative emergency planning and response capacity across all jurisdictions.

The 31 recommendations fall into the five areas that are outlined on this slide. We have already made significant progress on many of those fronts, some are still in the process and some are yet to come.

The task force was continued as a federal-provincial-territorial network on emergency preparedness and response. Our centre is responsible for secretariat support to that network, which met as recently as February 5 in Winnipeg to review some of our activities, including the 31 recommendations.

The Global Health Security Action Group is another international group that is the working secretariat in support of the ministers of health of the G7 countries and Mexico. We are active participants in the international dimensions of emergency preparedness and response.

In conclusion, I feel strongly that the municipal, provincial and territorial health departments have enhanced their emergency response capacity. I believe that Health Canada has clarified its roles and responsibilities, and has invested to strengthen its preparedness and response capability. We are working with our provincial and territorial partners to improve health emergency preparedness and response capability. We consult extensively with scientists, subject experts, the minister's advisory committee on CBRN and internationally with the U.S. I would digress to say that hardly a week goes by that we are not in contact with our technical partners in the United States, in the Department of Health and Human Services and in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. We have a nine-point action plan already underway with the United States to strengthen biosecurity across the borders.

We are prepared to respond to the health consequence of a CBRN incident in Canada today to safeguard the health of the public. This is an ongoing, dynamic process, and the work of our centre is to make it better.

Senator Forrestall: Later this month or early next month, we will visit Washington. We hope to be talking to the people who are involved in this. We would certainly appreciate any elaboration you can give us on the border itself, as well as the trans-border pursuit of delivery across our borders with the United States.

First, I would like you to expand a little on your assessment of the needs province-by-province and major city by major city. We had an opportunity to have conversations and exchange of information with the police and health officials in Toronto. We have been on the ground in Regina, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and most of us have had a look at our own local situations. We have been pleased with what we have seen and what they are doing on their own. Edmonton has a scope from the North Pole halfway to Calgary.

Could you give us your assessment of generally how much more needs to be done to bring them up to a level that makes you confident as a director of a first responder nationally?

Dr. St. John: I feel that the level of preparedness and response capacity is not even across the country at the present time. Some areas are farther along than others. For example, the Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton has been one of the leaders in emergency preparedness and planning to deal with the health consequences of a CBRN event.

There are certain areas that still require work. For example, on our national smallpox contingency plan, we are prepared to provide financial support to the provinces and territories for doing their side of the planning to carry out their 11 roles and responsibilities identified for provincial and territorial jurisdictions in that plan. For smallpox, we are at the beginning of planning, but for other areas, we are much further along in our planning.

Also, there has been a long-standing infrastructure in place across Canada in the public health sector for responding to disease outbreaks. An outbreak of smallpox or an outbreak of anthrax is an infectious disease outbreak. There is a long tradition in history of municipal, provincial and federal responses harmonized and coordinated in such a way as to contain the disease — for example, the Walkerton outbreak and many others I could mention. There is still room to get everyone up to speed, and the 31 recommendations from the FPT network deal with that.

Senator Forrestall: You cited Ottawa-Carleton, however, you did not mention Gatineau. This has come up in other areas. Is it difficult or almost impossible to have that full coordination because of the river and the vulnerability of communication?

Dr. St. John: I should have been more accurate and talked about the National Capital Region. The National Capital Region response team is a mix of federal, provincial and local people, in part, because the federal government is here. As an example, the level 3 laboratory mentioned is the biological component of the national capital response.

Senator Forrestall: Could you discuss cross-border activities?

Dr. St. John: We have a nine-point program already underway with our colleagues in the United States. It begins with an exchange of key personnel. On April 2, we will be going with about 15 federal representatives to Washington to get a thorough briefing on how systems work between the federal government and the state health departments in response to the health dimensions of a disaster.

On April 4, the American contingent will visit us in Ottawa for the same purpose. About five activities are underway in the area of pandemic influenza planning. This is planning for the possible — not necessarily human caused — natural event of a serious epidemic of influenza.

On February 28, our joint emergency operation centre will have a one-hour exercise in which we go live between the United States and Canada to test our communications links and abilities in the health second. We already know they work reasonably well because within an hour and a half of the planes crashing into the towers I was in contact with my counterpart in the United States to offer whatever assistance our national stockpile system could offer.

There is an exercise called "aTopoff Two,'' which is a major exercise on the American side. We have been participating actively in the health planning of that exercise. It will take place in May. There will be an international smallpox communications exercise in June, under the umbrella of the G7 ministers, plus Mexico. That includes the United States and Canada. Canada has the lead in planning that exercise.

We are contemplating a legal project with legal experts from both sides of the border to look at medical practice laws, to see what might be the barriers and limitations to exchanging medical personnel in the middle of a disaster. As you know, medical practice laws are really provincial laws, as they are in the United States where they are state laws, and so how does that relate to federal interactions for disasters.

Our national microbiology laboratory will be in Atlanta with a series of other laboratories to actually test our laboratory diagnostic capacity against the real live virus. As you probably know, the smallpox virus is only stored in the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and in Russia.

We are looking also to a smallpox agreement — in the event of a case of smallpox in Canada or the United States, how each will coordinate and respond to that. Finally, there is a meeting in Washington at the end of April between bio-safety experts on the control of the movement of biological agents across borders.

Senator Forrestall: I appreciate that. You have a heavy workload and schedule. Do you have enough funding to do what you would like to do? I am concerned particularly when you say within 24 hours you can have whatever you have available where it is needed. Do we have enough in the major cities to give you the luxury of 24 hours?

Dr. St. John: We are confident that our national emergency stockpile system can deliver our commitment. As an example, when I talked about the strategic placement of our warehouses, 9/11 brought home the fact that we had not strategically placed our warehouses, following a decade of cuts in budget to the national supply. To economize we had joined forces with Canadian Forces bases in National Defence and we were storing a considerable number of our emergency stockpile in Canadian Forces supply depots. With the results of 9/11 and investments by the Government of Canada in Health Canada, we have invested heavily in repositioning those warehouses strategically. For example, prior to September 11, there was no warehouse west of the Rockies, but there is one now.

Senator Forrestall: Is there one in Prince Edward Island?

Dr. St. John: No. There is one in Halifax.

Senator Forrestall: Is that good enough?

Dr. St. John: There is a special depot in St. John's in the event there is fog.

Senator Forrestall: You fellows are fairly important in the scheme of things.

Senator Meighen: One of my questions is following on the question of budget. Obviously, your budget has increased since 9/11. Can you give us some indication of the magnitude?

Dr. St. John: I have been in the enviable position as a lifelong public servant to actually enjoy a tripling of my budget rather than a cutting of my budget. The funds have come from various sources. We receive considerable funding from the Public Security and Anti-terrorism Committee — the Manley committee. We received a significant amount of funding through the OCIPEP umbrella for training, because OCIPEP was given the lead in training across all disciplines. We have also received funding from the CBRN research and technology initiative spearheaded by National Defence. In a way, it is a partnership across those areas.

We are participating with OCIPEP in a "acatch-your-breath'' review of the situation, looking at such things as sustainability of the effort, leadership, other areas and what is the way forward for the federal government. Health Canada is participating in that discussion.

As we near our budgeting for the coming fiscal year, we are actively reviewing our capacities and some of our limitations from the past two fiscal years.

Senator Meighen: OCIPEP stands for Office of Critical Infrastructure, Protection and Emergency Preparedness; is that correct?

Dr. St. John: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Meighen: From what you say, my impression is that you have an excellent working relationship with OCIPEP; is that correct?

Dr. St. John: We have a very close working relationship with OCIPEP, yes.

Senator Meighen: Training is a particular bugbear of mine. You do not go far without the training in times of emergency. How far advanced are you in terms of the training that has been conducted with the various provincial and municipal agencies across the country; are we halfway there?

Dr. St. John: I should like to describe the effort in two tracks. First, we continued the training that we have done traditionally and that we re-emphasized in the immediate period after September 11. For example, in December, we called together the public health community across Canada to undergo training in how one would carry out a rapid outbreak investigation under an emergency and disaster scenario where we need rapid answers from our epidemiological experts on how a disease spreads, in what directions and how fast. We carried out a pilot training course for the quarantine officers.

We have been working towards establishing health emergency response teams. This is a province and territory- based, but mobile, medical and public health response force patterned after the American emergency teams that would be able to move from province to province if required to support a local community whose medical community might be devastated or exhausted from the disaster. We carried out a health emergency response team, or HERT, training course on a pilot basis on a separate track.

The OCIPEP track worked on inserting the health component into first responder training for orientation purposes, for intermediate, advanced and specialty expertise training. We have brought to OCIPEP the health dimensions of consequence management in the training area.

Senator Meighen: If there were — God forbid — a severe earthquake in Vancouver that was beyond the capabilities of municipal and provincial authorities. Presumably, then, your assistance would be required. Who makes the judgment on that? Who receives the request from the local authorities?

Dr. St. John: It is at the call of the province to call on us to support the disaster relief effort.

Senator Meighen: Do you say, "aready aye ready,'' or are you entitled to say, "aWe are not so sure it is that severe''?

Dr. St. John: No, senator, we are ready and we respond to the provinces.

Senator Meighen: If the province says the problem is beyond their capabilities and they need your help, you are there, no questions asked; is that correct?

Dr. St. John: Yes, that is correct

Senator Meighen: How long would it take you to be fully deployed? I suppose that would depend on the nature of the disaster. That makes it difficult to answer, but could you be largely deployed in 24 hours?

Dr. St. John: Our system is partially centralized and partially decentralized. The backbone of the system is 16 caches of supplies all over the country.

A map of where those caches are located indicates that they are all over Alberta, not just in Edmonton and Calgary. The caches are also located in multiple sites in British Columbia.

Given the scenario you painted for Vancouver, we did not put our warehouse in Vancouver. We are prepared to support the relief effort if such a disaster happened. The seven warehouses that are strategically placed across the country back up that system. We then have the final, central warehouse in Ottawa. I would invite honourable senators to come out and visit the warehouse in Ottawa.

The warehouse comprises 100,000 square feet of impressive supplies. For example, the warehouses hold 165 200-bed hospitals, or 33,000 hospital beds all palletized and ready to go. It takes me two hours to load two trailer trucks with one hospital. These 165 hospitals are not all here in Ottawa; they strategically spread out across the country. Initially, they were equipped for the kinds of trauma you get in natural disasters, but we have now added the pharmaceutical capacity to the national emergency stockpile system. We have push packs or pre-packaged materials that we can push right out the front door as the initial shipment antibiotics and/or other medical supplies. We have done a significant amount of work to restructure, reorganize and revitalize the national emergency stockpile system.

Senator Meighen: What is your top priority in the next 12 months?

Dr. St. John: Our top priority is natural disasters.

Senator Meighen: Do you mean preparedness for meeting a natural disaster?

Dr. St. John: That is correct.

The Chairman: To follow up on Senator Meighen's last question, the numbers you gave in terms of the hospitals and the beds you have was impressive, but would you describe the logistics of getting those materials out of the warehouse? We looked at the teams and airplanes are in Trenton and some supplies are there, but the system is run out of Petawawa and the people are in Kingston.

We would like to know how you will distribute the supplies you have and what confidence you have that you will get those supplies where they are supposed to go.

Dr. St. John: Mr. Chairman, we have been working for six or eight months on a national emergency transportation strategy. The initial strategy involved multiple levels of redundant transportation with heavy reliance on air transportation. That included Air Canada and the major couriers inside Canada, as well as the RCMP, Transport Canada and National Defence.

For a variety of reasons, what we hoped would be a finished national emergency strategy was not completed. We had to rethink that strategy. We are talking about real emergency transportation — that is, we are talking about responding within hours, not days and not relying on commercially scheduled airplanes. Couriers are scheduled airlines, not emergency airlines. National Defence has its military mission first and may not be available to support civilian missions.

We in emergency preparedness feel strongly that redundancy is an important part of emergency preparedness. We are re-mapping a transportation strategy that would not be quite as reliant on air. We are looking at where our warehouses are, drawing circles around them and saying, "aWell, within that circle it will be faster to move those supplies by truck rather than by airplane.'' If the highways are iced over, we need an arrangement with Canadian National to move things by boxcar in certain circles if necessary. For wider circles or other distances, we may need to have air transportation. We are re-mapping and reconfiguring a national emergency transportation strategy. We hope to have that within six months.

The Chairman: The working assumption of the people we met in Vancouver was that they were on their own for the first 48 hours. They feel that, in the event of an earthquake, you or other people would not be able to get there.

Dr. St. John: We disagree. We think they are on their own for up to 24 hours. The National Capital Region is only an hour or two away from support because we have a warehouse right here. However, we have placed a warehouse in British Columbia, west of the Rockies, in close proximity to Vancouver. We do not expect to take 48 hours to get to Vancouver.

Senator Banks: Given the spacing out across the country of hospital facilities that you just described, and what sounds to be their relative ease of handling and mobility in comparison to DART, is there not a redundancy there? Do we need both?

Dr. St. John: Our national emergency stockpile system dates back 40 years to the Cold War period, when it was believed that the Cold War could produce mass casualties from nuclear bombs. It was set up at that time for the civilian sector. The minister of health has responsibility for the civilian sector, whereas the minister of national defence has responsibility for the military population. Since that time, it has evolved and grown into a capacity to meet civilian needs anywhere across the country and has been used on many occasions. For example, we provided more than 10,000 cots, 19,000 blankets and other amenities for the 47,000 people who were stranded in the Atlantic provinces right after 9/11.

I do not believe that it is redundant. There are two missions and the civilian mission must be met by Health Canada.

Senator Banks: The stockpiles sound terrific.

I am from Alberta. Albertans have a bred-in-the-bone cynicism about government, believing that it sometimes goes too far, gets too big and complicated and makes things less simple than they otherwise could be.

I think that most Canadians are quite comfortable with the hierarchy of response you are talking about when it comes to things like ice storms, earthquakes and perhaps even an influenza pandemic. However, the malicious kinds of things that could happen are at the fore of people's minds a lot these days.

As Senator Forrestall was saying, when we travelled across the country we found that although first responders in different cities had different priorities, there was one priority that they all agreed was near to the top — namely the capacity for intercommunication, regardless of how elaborate the facilities and how expert the people who operate them, to talk immediately to each other and to have complete coordination.

The following is what strikes fear into a Prairie chicken such as myself: We have the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness; we have the Health Canada Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, which comprises the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Planning and Training and the Office of Public Health Security, which comprises in turn the National Office of Health Emergency Response Teams; and then we have the Office of Laboratory Security, the Emergency and Bioterrorism Response Division, and it goes on.

When we were in Washington, we found that the Americans envy the fact that we have only about a dozen agencies that have to talk to each in the case of an emergency while they have some silly number that they were trying to consolidate.

In order to respond to emergencies — be they natural or caused by some idiot — is this not too many agencies? We have agencies with sub-agencies and offices. Can you push a button and talk to everyone and ensure that these things are coordinated properly?

Dr. St. John: Pretty close. In the Government of Canada framework for emergency preparedness and response the lead coordinating role has been given to OCIPEP, but there is recognition that, depending on the nature of the disaster, a particular department may take the lead. That concept leads us to have a rather well-integrated system. The emergency response capacity in Health Canada is designed to reflect the Government of Canada emergency response framework.

We are linked into OCIPEP as the national coordinating focal point, but if the problem were an outbreak of disease like smallpox, we would see Health Canada taking the lead in managing that outbreak with OCIPEP in turn becoming a support mechanism to mobilize other parts of the government that might be needed.

Senator Banks: The curve of an outbreak of smallpox allows a lot of time for discussion about who is in charge, but a cataclysmic event has a very sharp beginning and a very sharp upward movement. I am worried about the "aafter you, Alphonse — oh no, after you, Gaston'' response in terms of who will lead the federal response. It is precisely that that I am "abred-in-the-bone'' worried about.

Is there someone who will say, "aI am in charge here,'' and take over and take care of business?

Dr. St. John: It is our understanding, senator, that that is the role for OCIPEP.

Senator Banks: In the event of someone letting an envelope full of what is proven to be anthrax spores loose in the Toronto subway and they are widespread among the population, the first responders will naturally be Toronto, but what will you do on that day?

Dr. St. John: The management of the health consequences then shifts over to Health Canada, because this then is a disease outbreak, as opposed to a tornado that has knocked down all the barns. There may be people injured in that tornado and we may provide supplies and materials for such an episode, but we would not be the primary coordinator for the tornado. However, if it is a disease outbreak, which is what anthrax is, we become the primary coordinator.

To the extent that the province asks for help, we are prepared to come. As I said, in our national emergency stockpile system we have enough antibiotics for over 100,000 people above and beyond what the province can provide. That material can be made available within hours.

Senator Banks: That phone call would be one-stop shopping?

Dr. St. John: Yes, it would.

We have a luxury here in Canada over which our American colleagues in health despair. In Health Canada, our centre is one-stop shopping. All of the pieces that previously had something to do with emergency preparedness and response were consolidated in one centre. I have emergency health services; epidemiological services and emergency social services all in one place; whereas my health and human services colleagues in the U.S. have to call various agencies for various services.

Senator Banks: That is very reassuring, and I congratulate you on being able to give that answer.

Dr. St. John: I confess it was then deputy minister David Dodge who made the reorganization in July 2000.

Senator Banks: All credit to him. Maybe things will be okay in the bank then.

One final question on a subject you raised, Dr. St. John, which would never have occurred to me. You said there might be an event in which a province's or a state's medical community would be devastated or knocked down to the extent that it could not sufficiently respond to Montana or North Dakota. It never occurred to me before that our medical community could not go to their aid because they cannot practice there.

It seems to me that someone would be looking at that question and recognizing that we ought to be able to go from Windsor to Detroit to help in an emergency and vice versa without people worrying about liability. However, what would happen today? Would we just have to stand and say, "aWe know your house is on fire but you cannot have our hose''?

Dr. St. John: We would not do that. We would obviously respond. The devil is in the details. As I said before, the practise of medicine is controlled by the provinces and territories. You are licensed to practise and do certain things according to provincial laws and rules and regulations. Some of the provinces have moved to revamp their emergency laws. Manitoba is one. B.C. has looked at emergency provisions so that they can waive practice requirements.

I mentioned the HERT team, the Health Emergency Response Team, which is intended to be a clinical practice team that is available to move to a disaster site. We have looked at options such as federalizing the team, or making them all federal employees. Federal employees can practice anywhere as long as they are practicing on federal ground. If we set up our hospital in a school in downtown Vancouver, let us say, the Minister of Health has authority to federalize that property so the doctor ends up practicing on federal property.

That is a little cumbersome and a roundabout way of doing things. That is why we felt, with our American colleagues, that it would be useful to do a legal study of medical practice acts on both sides of the border to see exactly how it might work or what might need to be amended and corrected to make it work in an emergency situation.

Senator Banks: I wish you good luck with that study and its resolution.

Senator Forrestall: I hate to raise this question, but who pays for the teams we send? Who pays for all the 132,000 beds?

Dr. St. John: It is 32,000 beds.

Senator Forrestall: There is not much difference between 132 and 32 when you have to pay for the nurses. Where will they come from, the nurses, nurses' aides, the practitioners, and who pays for them?

Dr. St. John: During our re-examine of our strategies with the national emergency stockpile system, we did question who would staff the hospitals that we can deploy rapidly and set up in a matter of hours. If the local medical community is already overtaxed with casualties from a disaster, we cannot count on the local medical community to staff these hospitals. We started to think hard and long about health emergency response teams. We have to be able to move clinical and public health and psychosocial support people along with the physical goods, so to speak, so that in dire circumstances we can provide all the support that is needed, especially if the local medical community is exhausted, devastated and no longer able to cope.

Senator Forrestall: Do you start recruiting from close to the scene out?

Dr. St. John: No, sir. These are pre-recruited, volunteer teams. We would provide all of the necessary training, with special emphasis on chemical, biological and radio-nuclear disasters, including natural disasters. They would comprise a cadre of people across the country, provincially and territorially based, that would be available to be mobile and self- sufficient in the field for up to 72 hours with push packs and other support equipment.

This concept has been well developed in the States. We have been down and examined their concept. We have enhanced the concept by adding public health and social support people to the teams. The United States is mostly constructing teams around medical care — casualty, surgeons in terms of burn specialists and so forth. We have added additional dimensions to our concept of a health emergency response team.

Senator Cordy: My questions are follow-ups to questions asked, starting with leadership and coordination. You wait for the province's call to move in unless it would be something that would happen immediately that would be of a federal nature. You said that you were implementing 31 recommendations on the task force dealing with leadership and coordination. Has this all been set out in a plan as to exactly who is in charge of what, or is OCIPEP in charge when you go into an emergency?

Dr. St. John: It is an axiom that there has to be local command and control of an incident. If the health sector is heavily involved, we expect the municipal officer of health, backed up by his provincial chief medical officer of health, to be the command and control.

Senator Cordy: It would go municipal, provincial, federal.

Dr. St. John: Yes, ma'am, and we would support that command and control structure.

Senator Cordy: I am wondering also about medical supplies. Many medical supplies can stay on the shelves of storage centres for 20 years, but some pharmaceuticals have a "abest before'' date. You said you have some medical supplies for up to 100,000 people. The provinces would also have pharmaceuticals, I would assume, as would the military. Do you coordinate as to the amount? How do you balance the money that you spend and the "abest before'' dates? You need to have them on hand in case of an emergency.

Dr. St. John: We do what we call "avendor-managed inventory,'' to the extent possible. We buy the drug once. The company does not send it to us. The company takes it and puts it in the back of their warehouse. About six months or so before the expiry date, the company moves that stock into their marketplace and replaces it with fresh stock. That way, we buy once, and we only have to pay some minor fees for storage and administrative costs.

We do spot checks of that. We come unannounced to the company and say, "Show us our supply.'' We go back and check to ensure it is there. We found a few times it was not there, but usually it is there because they are under contract to us to provide that kind of service.

This system has been in place for a long time and has worked very well. However, to be honest, after September 11, the volume of drugs that were purchased in many cases exceeded the company's ability to move it through their marketplace in Canada. The vast majority of it is vendor-managed, but we are now working on strategies so that we do not start throwing away antibiotics.

Senator Atkins: David Dodge is a great man. Was Dr. Robert McMurtry involved in the reorganization?

Dr. St. John: He came shortly thereafter and was my deputy minister for a short period of time, yes.

Senator Atkins: You keep referring to 47,000 people stranded in Atlantic Canada. I assume that was at Gander?

Dr. St. John: Some were in Gander, Moncton and Halifax and St. John's.

Senator Atkins: Can you describe, from the moment you knew 9/11 occurred, how you dealt with that?

Dr. St. John: In some ways, Canada is a very small place. In other ways, it is a very large place. The small place has to do with the fact that we have 13 public health jurisdictions around the country. We all know each other. We know each other well, by first name, unlike my colleagues at CDC and other places who have to deal with 50 states plus territories. They have more of a jurisdictional nightmare. While we do not always agree among the 13 — plus the feds is 14 — we still have, I think, a pretty amazing communication system.

Shortly after 9/11, as events were unfolding and the airlines were grounded, we were already in contact with our emergency health services directors from the provinces and our chief medical officers of health, anticipating what the needs would be.

When the Atlantic provinces ran out of space in homes and other facilities and had to set up space in gymnasiums and cafeterias, they first turned to their local national emergency stockpile supplies. We were monitoring those, and as soon as it looked like those would give out, the call was made to our central warehouse in Ottawa to send out supplies. For Moncton, we had our supplies there in nine hours.

Senator Atkins: Did they go by plane?

Dr. St. John: By truck.

Senator Atkins: In every case?

Dr. St. John: No, sir, not to St. John's. We received great cooperation from National Defence to airlift the supplies to those places.

Senator Atkins: You did a remarkable job.

Dr. St. John: Thank you. I have a great staff, senator.

Senator Atkins: If we had an epidemic of mad cow disease, how would you deal with it?

Dr. St. John: I deal with the people. Agriculture deals with the cows.

Senator Banks: What about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

Dr. St. John: If we had it in people?

Senator Banks: Yes.

Dr. St. John: The Centre for Infectious Disease, Prevention and Control would view that as an outbreak of disease. They have monitoring systems in place to detect any cases of mad cow disease in human beings. As you know, there is no treatment for that disease.

Senator Atkins: That was my next question.

Dr. St. John: In that case, we would be doing field epidemiology investigation. It is not transmissible from person to person except through blood, and systems are in place to defer donors who have been living in Europe and in England to prevent contamination of blood supply. There is a cadre of people primed for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in human beings in Canada. We had one case, it was an imported case, of a gentleman who had lived in England and did come down with the disease and was diagnosed in Canada. We were all over that case.

The Chairman: Thank you, Dr. St. John. It has been an interesting evening for us. You have added significantly to our reserves of information about the role of first responders and how the federal government is supporting them. I would like to ask if our researchers could be in contact with you to obtain more information. We very much appreciate the offer to visit your facility and we will take you up on it.

Dr. St. John: We would welcome that, senator.

The Chairman: Excellent.

The committee continued in camera.