Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin has sent a strong message to the United States administration that Canada will do its part to keep terrorists out of North America by funding of $7.7 billion for personal and economic security, according to the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA).
The funding includes $600 million over the next five years to fund infrastructure projects to facilitate cross-border trade in all parts of the country. This will include new or improved roads and highways to border crossings and processing centres for commercial vehicles.
However, the chief executive officer for the Canadian Trucking Alliance, David Bradley, said the funding is welcome, but will need to be buttressed by additional funds from the provincial governments, the municipalities and the private sector. "It would also have been nice to see a specific plan, which roads to which border crossings, but presumably that will emerge soon.
“The budget represents a significant financial commitment for the government, given current fiscal circumstances and the fact that Canada has already invested heavily in automated customs systems. As we have been saying all along, it is essential that the US reciprocate and that we develop truly bilateral customs processes to ensure that Canadian exports can cross the border efficiently.”
The lion’s share of the funds, to be spent over the next three to five years, will be allocated to intelligence and policing, better screening of new entrants to the country, enhanced emergency preparedness, support for the military and enhanced airport security. In total, these initiatives will eat up $6.5 billion of the total amount, according to Martin.
He said that $1.2 billion will be used to create a modern, sophisticated border system, using state-of-the-art technology to speed legitimate traffic while stopping those who would do harm to the countries.”