US-Canada Border Delays, Rules Cost $19 billion a Year

VANCOUVER —The Canada-US border is costing Canadians over $19 billion a year, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

Researchers added up the lowest values from the estimated ranges for all three types of costs: trade, tourism, and government programs, equaling the $19.1 billion. For its part, trade was $16.2 billion of that number.

Pointing to post-Sept 11 security regulations, traffic bottlenecks, and administrative costs for various programs, the report’s authors are calling on both the U.S. and Canadian governments to provide detailed descriptions of costs and expenditures for specific border programs.

One of those programs is the Beyond the Border Action Plan, announced last December.

“While the vision provides specific benchmarks and timelines for measuring progress, it does not tie these guidelines to government expenditures or reductions in border crossing costs,” the authors write in the report. “The Canadian and American governments need to tie specific border infrastructure improvements and other expenditures to specific gains, as manifest in lower border crossing costs for Canadian and American businesses engaged in cross border trade, as well as individual travellers.”

For the most part, the authors praise the Border Action Plan, but “there is room for improvement.” Once both governments provide detailed descriptions of costs and expenditures for specific border programs and security measures, they also must be evaluated in terms of performance, namely, whether the expenditures made by the public sector are producing savings for individual travellers and traders.” The costs and results evaluations should be done on a year-to-year basis and made public, advises the report.

Either we’re going to continue “with incremental and uncoordinated programs as we have often done since 9/11” or we’re going to create “a new border regime” the report stresses. “In order to do the latter we need to hold governments accountable in terms of costs and savings.”

The report also noted the recent announcement of a new Detroit-Windsor crossing, that, they say, should have a “very positive impact on the future costs of crossing the border in this industrial hub.”

You can download the full report, titled Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border, here.

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