Border wait estimates criticized

OTTAWA — Newly obtained documents from the Canada Border Services Agency confirm what union officials have been saying for years: The agency’s Web site that shows waiting times at the U.S. border is sometimes inaccurate.

For five years the agency has posted waiting times for the 22 busiest crossings, including four between British Columbia and northwest Washington state.

The agency’s goal is to keep the wait within 10 minutes Monday through Thursday and 20 minutes Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Officials claim that Canada meets the goal at least 90 per cent of the time, but that has long been disputed by the Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise.

Four years ago an independent check by front-line border officers found widespread underreporting, in some cases by as much as two hours.

The “CBSA has not been reporting accurate wait times, and the times CBSA have been reporting are always shorter than the actual wait times,” union President Ron Moran said.

On Sunday, the Canadian Press reported that an agency briefing note dated April 2008 acknowledged there has been no standard way to calculate how long travelers must wait to enter the country.

“Methods of estimating wait times are specific to each port and are conducted exclusively as a visual inspection by port personnel,” said the document, which was obtained under Canada’s Access to Information Act.

The Web listings “cannot be used as a predictor of exactly what the real-time wait will be when arriving at a port of entry,” the note stated.

Agency charts obtained by CP, based on uneven data from 2003-2008, indicate that backups are generally much longer in the summer and on holidays but that there is much less fluctuation through the year for commercial truckers.

The documents did not shed light on the accuracy of a similar Web site of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for entry to the United States or of some private business and state agency Web sites that also list wait times at the border.

Responding to e-mail questions, Traci LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the Canadian border agency, said the posted wait times have never been audited.

“The CBSA is currently developing an action plan to better measure border wait times, which includes reviewing potential technological solutions to improve the quality of the border wait time data being captured,” LeBlanc said.

Agency officials met with their U.S. counterparts earlier this year in Tucson, Ariz., to discuss ways to record wait times more accurately in response to complaints from importers and exporters who say the lines have been getting longer.

On the Web

Canada Border Services Agency wait times: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/ bwt-taf/menu-eng.html

U.S. Customs and Border Protection wait times: http://apps.cbp.gov/bwt

Talk to us

More in Local News

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Freeland resident Kevin Lungren has been commuting to the office using his paddleboard. It's a commute he can do in all seasons and just about any type of weather, except wind.
Whidbey commuter paddleboards his way to work in all seasons

The financial advisor says he’s only fallen off his board twice in the past five years.

Photo by Heather Mayhugh
Stuart Peeples demonstrates how to enter Heather Mayhugh's wheelchair van. In recent months, while navigating the new Mukilteo ferry terminal, Mayhugh has struggled to unload her clients who need access to the restroom.
For some, Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal aggravates challenges

Many disabled folks say not enough thought went into improving the facility’s accessibility problems.

Parts of Snohomish County under weekend heat advisory

Monroe and areas of the county near the Cascades were expected to see highs in the 90s.

Marysville man wins $100,000 in military vaccine lottery

Carmen S., who served in the Vietnam War, claimed his $100,000 cash prize this week.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
State AG says it can’t investigate Lynnwood Jail death

Tirhas Tesfatsion’s family pushed Lynnwood leaders for an independent inquiry. Her death was ruled a suicide.

The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of the new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)
Marysville-Arlington road improvements won’t happen at once

Traffic improvement projects near the Cascade Industrial Center will take shape over the next decade.

2 men get prison time for stabbing stranger at Everett motel

The pair both pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the stabbing in 2019.

3 Monroe teachers awarded $185 million for chemical exposure

Chemical giant Monsanto was ordered to pay Sky Valley Education Center teachers in the first of many lawsuits.

Terry Boese, owner of Wicked Teuton Brewing Company, says he wishes his beard was longer so he could dress up as a wizard for a Harry Potter trivia night happening later this month. The brewer and the library are teaming up to offer two Booktoberfest trivia events, starting Thursday. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor’s big-bearded Wicked Teuton brewer killed in crash

Terry Boese, a self-proclaimed “proud zymurgist,” was well-known in the North Whidbey beer scene.

Most Read