New mandatory security screening for visitors to Canada

(QMI Agency files)

(QMI Agency files)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:15 PM ET

By 2015, your Aunt Mabel in the U.K. or Japanese relatives visiting family in Canada will have to get government approval before boarding a plane to come to Canada.

Part of the Conservatives' omnibus budget bill includes the introduction of a new "electronic travel authorization" system, known as an eTA, in the next few years for foreigners from visa-exempt countries flying to Canada.

"We would look at this as a security screening opportunity to push risks and threats offshore to the extent possible," said Les Linklater, an assistant deputy minister in the immigration department.

To get an eTA, travellers would go online, fill out a form similar to a visa application and get a travel approval document before boarding a Canada-bound plane - provided their name doesn't alarm Canada Border Services Agency, CSIS or the RCMP.

Only American citizens would be exempted from the Canadian requirements, just as Canadians are exempt from a similar U.S. system already operating.

NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims is worried about the eTA violating travellers' privacy.

"Who will make the decision as to when and what is going to be shared with other states?" Sims asked at the Commons immigration committee Monday.

Linklater said there are no plans "at this time" for any information sharing with other countries.

The eTA will charge a fee to recover the cost of running the system, but the numbers haven't been worked out yet.

It's expected the fee will be less than $20 per person.


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