Fixes to no-fly list system coming in 2020, government says

The Liberal government is promising to have a redress system for those falsely flagged as being on the ‘no-fly list’ in place next year, now that its massive national security bill has been cleared for royal assent.

For years, the government has been aware that innocent people — including children — face difficulties at airports because their names are similar to those of individuals cited by the Passenger Protection Program, also known as the ‘no-fly list’.

Bill C-59, first introduced back in 2017, includes changes to the protection program — although the details of that portion of the bill still need to be figured out.

After months of delays, the Senate agreed to send the bill for royal assent Tuesday night.

“We’re excited to see it go through,” said Amber Cammish, a member of the No-Fly List Kids group, which has been advocating for a redress system.

“We’ve got the results that we wanted, three-and-a-half years later.”

Her daughter Alia Mohammed, 6, is one of dozens of children known to have been delayed or prevented from boarding flights. Their families believe it’s because their names are similar to those on the anti-terror watch list.

“We were coming home from northern B.C. after Christmas, on New Year’s Day and we were stopped and refused to board until I showed my daughter’s birth certificate and passport for a domestic flight. They had to fax that down to CBSA in order to clear her and she had just turned three years old,” said Cammish.

Redress system coming

The Nanaimo mother said it’s easier to bring her family on a trip to Egypt via the U.S. than it is to fly domestically.

The U.S. already has a system in place which allows travellers with names similar to those on the terrorist watch list to obtain ‘redress numbers’ so they can easily book tickets.

“With the passage of Bill C-59, we can now proceed with the regulatory process to make the necessary changes to the Secure Air Travel Regulations,” said Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

“At the same time, new information technology systems will be developed, tested and then implemented … It is expected that government-controlled centralized screening and the redress system will begin operating in 2020.”

Cammish said the affected families know there’s still a lot of runway ahead, but they’re hoping the government keeps them updated.

“Timelines are really important. We understand that there’s an election coming up and there may be different delays in procedural things, but hopefully we are looking for a very straight forward movement on the timeline,” she said.

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