In writing this blog post, we are not advocating filing baseless, frivolous, vexatious and retaliatory complaints against Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) officers. However, we have learned from the experience of our clients that some legitimate complaints arise from time-to-time. It is in the spirit of transparency and openness that we have decided to write about the CBSA complaints process.
Before we give this information to you, we ask one thing – when you write a complaint, do not do so in anger. We talk to many clients who have had a bad experience with the CBSA and they are upset. Many people call us in a very emotional state. What we say to everyone is to “press pause”. Take your time to be fair. After you write the service complaint, do not press “send” right away. Print what you have written and put it in a drawer for 24 hours. Then read the complaint again and make any changes that you feel are warranted and appropriate. If you send a fair service complaint that is factual, rather than emotional, you increase the chances that the reader will address your concerns.
There is an online form that you can complete to file a complaint.
There is also a better option. You may write a thoughtful complaint to the Recourse Directorate.
Canada Border Services Agency
Ottawa, ON K1A 0L8
Your letter should include:
- your name, address, telephone number;
- a description of what happened including the date, time and port of entry; and
- where possible, the name and/or badge number of the CBSA officer involved.
Based on our experience, the Recourse Directorate will send the complaint to the relevant port of entry (where the CBSA officer at issue works). The CBSA will conduct an investigation into the complaint. Our clients have received telephone calls from supervisors seeking more information about the incident in question. While the Recourse Directorate does not inform what action was taken, they have communicated that action will be taken.
Thousands of complaints have been filed against the CBSA – here is a link to a 2011 article.
For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or email at cyndee @lexsage.com.