Less than half of suspicious packages entering Canada by cross-border mail are X-rayed for high-risk items such as guns, according to an audit report by Public Safety Canada (PSC).
“The percentage of mail items screened by the detection technology to assess whether they were high-risk items requiring an in-depth examination was 65% in 2020-21 and 46% in 2021-22,” said the report, titled “Horizontal Evaluation of the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence.”
As first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, the findings were based on data submitted by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to auditors. The agency had received dual-view X-ray devices “purchased to screen increased volumes of mail” at postal sorting plants, auditors wrote.
“Reporting data for the indicator measuring the percentage of international postal shipments examined using Dual View X-ray technology which resulted in a seizure specifies that 35% of these shipments were examined in 2020-21 but it was not specified how many were seized,” they added.
The evaluation, which covered the period from 2018 to 2022, was required by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to examine the outcome of the initiatives launched by Ottawa to tackle increasing gun and gang violence plaguing the country.
Launched in 2018, the initiatives consist of channeling funds to PSC, CBSA, and the RCMP to support them in a scope of activities including intelligence gathering, equipment procurement, and law enforcement.
In a briefing note on March 20 of this year, PSC reported that $358.8 million had been allocated to provinces and territories thus far. The department said it expects another $100 million to be allocated though subject to approval.
Public Safety Canada, which is mandated to ensure national security, previously acknowledged that it does not know how many guns are smuggled into the country.
“The total number of firearms successfully smuggled into Canada is unknown,” said the department in its December 2022 briefing note, obtained by Blacklock’s.
“We are providing the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP with the tools and resources they need to combat smuggling and trafficking such as X-ray machines.”
The latest evaluation report noted there was a 91 percent increase in fatal shootings between 2013 and 2020.
“Crime-related data from Statistics Canada indicates that GGV [gun and gang violence] in Canada remains a pervasive issue across the country,” it said.
“Since 2016, shootings have become the most common type of homicide and in 2021, gang-related homicides continued to account for nearly one-quarter of all homicides in Canada; 74% of these homicides are committed with a firearm.”
‘Close the Loophole’
Under subsection 40(3) of the Canada Post Corporation Act, police cannot intercept any letter, package, or mail of any kind if it’s still in transit. To intercept and seize an item suspected of containing an illegal drug or a handgun, for example, a police officer must wait until it’s delivered to the addressee or returned to the sender.