Transportation Security Clearances / Criminal Information Sharing

After experiencing its first serious terrorist attacks in 1985 (Air India flight 182 and CP Air flight 003), Canada created the first Transportation Security Clearance Program (TSCP) in 1986.  The program was created to prevent unlawful interference with the aviation transportation system.  The program accomplishes this by assessing the risk posed by individuals, who by the nature of their work, require access to a restricted area of an airport.  In assessing this risk, Transport Canada considers a broad range of intelligence, including information from multiple criminal databases available to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  In 2007, the program was later expanded to designated marine ports.

Employees who require access to a restricted area at an airport, marine port or persons who perform certain designated duties must have a valid transportation security clearance.  To apply for a Transportation Security Clearance, applicants must provide basic biological information such as date of birth, surname, given names(s), surname at birth, birth certificate number, province of issue and municipality/province of birth; fingerprints, a facial image; and five contiguous years of verifiable and reliable information on their work, study and residency.  The applicant must consent to a background check.

Transport Canada verifies the suitability of each Transportation Security Clearance applicant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Services and if necessary, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. 

In assessing risk, Transport Canada considers a broad range of intelligence, including information from multiple criminal intelligence databases available to the RCMP.   Individuals may be identified as representing an unacceptable level of risk because of criminal activity or association with organized crime, and their Transportation Security Clearance may be refused, suspended or cancelled.  In this way the Program also serves to prevent criminal activity at airports and marine ports.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the sharing of criminal intelligence signed in April 2009 allows for the RCMP to perform exhaustive verifications of applicants for a Transportation Security Clearances against multiple shared law enforcement data banks.  These verifications and the information gleaned from them allow Transport Canada to better assess the risk posed by security clearance applicants.

The presence of organized crime and the plan to mitigate its activities in and around the transportation system has placed significant importance on the requirement to share criminal intelligence and information.  Not doing so could leave our transportation system, airports and ports, along with supporting infrastructure open to exploitation for illicit purposes, and consequently jeopardize its integrity.

Transport Canada’s security mandate is focused on preventing unlawful interference with the Canadian transportation system.  Security is a shared responsibility. Transport Canada encourages coordination and integration between federal partners, industry and local policing agencies in achieving a safe and secure transportation system.

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