DAILY NEWS Mar 4, 2013 7:46 AM - 0 comments

US mandatory budget cuts may not affect border operations right away: CTA

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OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Canadian Trucking Association has learned that massive US budget cuts set to become official Friday may not take immediate effect. CTA officials say they have been informed by sources at various ports that the so-called “sequestration” cuts won’t kick-in for at least 30 days due to labour negotiations with federal workers.

Although not official, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Feb. 14 stated that Customs and Border Protection would be facing more than half a billion dollars in cuts, and as a consequence CBP would not be able to maintain current staffing levels of border patrol agents and CBP officers as mandated by Congress. Sequestration would force CBP to immediately begin furloughs of its employees, reduce overtime for frontline operations, and decrease its hiring to backfill positions. Specifically, beginning April 1, CBP would have to reduce its work hours by the equivalent of over 5,000 Border Patrol agents and the equivalent of over 2,750 CBP officers.

On Feb. 27, CTA said the Canadian trucking industry could be sideswiped by sequestration, severely impacting border operations in the form of significant border delays.

“The question remains, though, when will the cuts actually be felt by industry, where, and to what degree? What we do know is that border officers probably won’t suddenly vanish over the next few days, but whether ports remain fully operational during the entire month of March remains a question,” CTA officials said in a release this afternoon.

CTA says the group and the provincial trucking associations will be working with local ports to monitor the situation, distributing updates to member carriers. CTA has asked the carrier community to contact their local association “if there are extensive delays at the various border crossings.”

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