Liberal budget offers $81M solution for no-fly list kids
Published Tuesday, February 27, 2018 3:13PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 27, 2018 5:55PM EST
The federal government intends to put an end to mix-ups at airports involving children, some as young as newborns, whose names match adults on the no-fly list.
The 2018 budget includes $81.4 million over five years to create a new passenger protection program. The investment will help develop a “rigorous centralized screening model” and establish a redress system for travellers unintentionally flagged on the no-fly list.
“The enhanced program will help ensure that privacy and fairness concerns are addressed, while keeping Canadians safe,” according to the budget, tabled Tuesday.
Families of the affected children were invited to the budget lockup, where they were among the first to learn about the federal government’s commitment.
Khadija Cajee, whose 8-year-old son is regularly confused for someone on the no-fly list, said the new system is precisely what she hoped for.
“Canadian families have been struggling with the flaws in this system for 10 years now, and we’re very grateful that the government has listened to our concerns,” Cajee told CTV News following the lockup.
The No Fly List Kids, a group of parents whose children are affected by the mix-ups, has been advocating for years for a new computer system to correct the glitches.
The group says many of the mismatches include youth with Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding names. The issue raises questions about charter of rights guarantees of equality, which are protected by law.
Faaria Siddiqui said she’s been questioned almost every time she flies with her two-year-old son, Amar, whose name matches someone flagged in the registry.
“It was really shocking for us to hear it the first time around. We were like, wait, what, there’s a security block on his ticket?” Siddiqui told CTV News Channel on Tuesday, ahead of the announcement.
Amar’s family has become so accustomed to the mix-up that they arrive at the airport early to accommodate extra questioning.
It’s an embarrassing situation, Siddiqui said.
“Because you’re two feet away from the person behind you, and they can overhear the entire conversation,” she said. “I’m sure they’re thinking, well, what is wrong with this person? And obviously nobody would even imagine it’s the child.”
Even so, Siddiqui considers herself one of the lucky ones. Some teenagers travelling abroad have faced unwarranted consequences, simply because of their name.
“They’ve had their passports taken away. They’ve been pulled aside for extra screening. They’ve missed flights. They’ve been held up so they can’t enter back into the country. So I’m scared that my child might someday have to deal with that, and I hope they don’t,” she said.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who has previously discussed the issue, said that a brand-new computer system along with legislation and regulations were required to fix the problem.
With files from The Canadian Press