Health and Safety of Border Services Officers
- We take the safety of our front line staff very seriously.
- CBSA is providing its Border Services Officers (BSOs) a daily briefing on the evolving situation.
- The Agency is working closely with Health Canada experts to confirm appropriate measures are in place, including the examination of standard operating procedures for dealing with travellers who may exhibit symptoms of illness.
- At this point in time, CBSA has sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment. With the efforts made by Public Services and Procurement the CBSA will be able to be restocked within three weeks. Regardless of where a CBSA officer works, they have access to the personal protective equipment required to ensure their health and safety.
- Occupational health officials from Public Health Agency of Canada have been providing ongoing training since January 20, 2020 to CBSA officers. This training focuses on the coronavirus and on the proper use of personal protective equipment.
- All BSOs have been, and continue to be trained on the proper donning and use of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks through shift briefing bulletins and an internal video. This has been complemented with 88 information sessions, through which 1,139 CBSA officers have received in-person training.
- As of January 25, in addition to general precautions, Health Canada recommended that:
- CBSA officers handling documents and baggage of potentially ill persons wear gloves; and
- Where a CBSA officer must be in close proximity to a potentially infected traveller for a prolonged period of time, officers are to wear gloves, eye/face protection and a mask.
- CBSA has been providing daily briefings to the Customs and Immigration Union and I have personally met with the President of that union to assure them that CBSA and I are committed to officer safety during this health crisis.
If pressed on postal stream:
Out of an abundance of caution, CBSA officers processing mail from China have been equipped with nitrile gloves and advised of the importance of good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing. It is important to ensure hands are washed each time gloves are changed or discarded.
CBSA port of entry management provide regular briefings to staff on the enhanced measures and procedures in place. In addition, they brief the CBSA officers on emerging issues as well as any upcoming potential situations.
In addition to the regular briefings to staff provided by CBSA port of entry management, when available, and at locations where PHAC resources are on site, or in the vicinity, PHAC resources attend the shift briefings to support CBSA port of entry management, and ensure the CBSA officers have the most up to date information, understanding of trends, and have the opportunity to ask questions related to COVID-19, including how to protect themselves and potential risks.
The health and safety of its officers is of utmost importance to the CBSA. At this time, Health Canada has advised officers interacting with travellers to wear gloves when handling the documents and baggage of potentially ill persons and, to wear gloves, eye/face protection and a mask when escorting and remaining with an ill person. Staff continue to be briefed and trained in the proper use of personal protection equipment.
On February 17, all travellers who indicate they have been in the province of Hubei are required to fill out a PHAC contact form to allow health authorities to monitor and track those who have been in the affected region. This has since been expanded to all travellers. The form captures basic biographical data, flight data, and contact information for the passenger while in Canada. Once completed, PHAC determines when and how to share this information with provincial authorities.
At the direction of PHAC, on February 19, Border Services Officers began issuing a surgical mask kit to all travellers who report that they have been in the Province of Hubei.
Supplemental information from Health Canada on Border Services Officers training
The sessions delivered in the Region by Health Canada nurses were arranged locally.
The Health Canada sessions would have served as a refresher specific to COVID-19. As part of Highly Toxic Substance (i.e opioid) procedures, all Border Services Officers need to be trained on proper donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (including N95). CBSA has an internal video for this purpose. In accordance with the Agency’s Respiratory Protection Program, employees cannot wear respirators without being fit tested to ensure an adequate fit.
Prepared by: Julia Tokarew, a/Chief of Staff, Human Resources Branch, 613-948-3186
Approved by: Louise Youdale, Vice-President, Human Resources Branch, 613-948-3180
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