Public Safety Canada

Public Safety Canada

February 23, 2007 18:00 ET

PSEPC: Minister Day Announces Progress on WHTI With the United States and Increased Security Cooperation With Mexico

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 23, 2007) - Following successful meetings with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts, the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, today announced progress on three key initiatives related to the implementation of the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) with the United States and increased cooperation on security issues with Mexico.

Progress on WHTI with the United States:

Children exempt under WHTI

The U.S. government announced its intent to propose that children will not have to present a passport when traveling to the United States by land and sea under the U.S. WHTI. The proposal will allow children 15 years of age and under, with parental consent, to cross the border into the United States with a certified copy of their birth certificate. The same rule will apply to children between the ages of 16 and 18, under adult supervision, when traveling with a group, such as a school, sports or religious group.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the U.S. WHTI that will address land and sea travel will be published at a later date, with additional details on requirements for travellers entering the United States through land and sea border crossings.

"Canada's New Government has been working vigorously to ensure that legitimate trade and travel across our borders are not interrupted as a result of the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative," said Minister Day. "Thanks to our ongoing efforts, children will be exempt from the U.S. requirement to carry a passport when traveling to the United States by land and sea," he added.

British Columbia, Washington State drivers' license pilot project

Canada and the U.S. are continuing to work together to identify alternate documents to the passport that could be used for border-crossing purposes. As part of this effort, Canada will work with British Columbia and Washington State on the development of their drivers' license pilot, which is the first of its kind in North America.

"The pilot project will determine the feasibility of using smart or enhanced drivers' licenses as valid border-crossing documents under WHTI," said Minister Day. "This is testimony to the commitment of both of our governments to establish alternative documents to passports for crossing into the United States."

Standards for cross-border travel documents

Minister Day and Secretary Chertoff agreed on the Recommended Standards for Secure Proof of Status and Nationality Documents to Facilitate Cross-border Travel. The standards are intended to guide policymakers as they consider the variety of issues involved in cross border travel. They are not meant to set policy, and it will be up to each country to determine its own approach to documents for entry. The standards will be used in the development of the driver's license pilot.

"Canada and the United States have a shared commitment to continental security," said Minister Day. "Our two countries worked closely to develop standards that will increase security without compromising the flow of legitimate trade and tourism across our shared border."

Agreement with Mexico to increase cooperation on security issues:

Minister Day and Francisco Javier Ramirez Acuna, the Secretary of Governance of the United Mexican States, met in Ottawa to continue their dialogue on security issues relating to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).

"I had a very productive meeting with Secretary Ramirez Acuna, which will allow our two countries to pursue work on important security activities," said Minister Day. "I'm very pleased to see the progress that we are making on a range of security issues that are of mutual interest to our two countries."

At the end of today's meeting, the two Ministers tasked their respective officials with the creation of a working group to examine issues which may include counter-terrorism, border administration, organized crime, drug trafficking, emergency management and critical infrastructure protection.

The announcement recognizes the importance of strengthened cooperation between Canada and Mexico on safety and security issues.

The SPP is an initiative to improve the safety, enhance the prosperity and increase the quality of life of the citizens of North America. This partnership supports the three countries working together in areas as diverse as transportation, the environment and public health. For additional information on the SPP, please visit the website http://www.spp-psp.gc.ca/menu-en.aspx.

For more information, please visit the website www.publicsafety.gc.ca.

Contact Information

  • Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
    Media Relations
    613-991-0657
    or
    Office of the Honourable Stockwell Day
    Minister of Public Safety
    Melisa Leclerc
    Director of Communications
    613-991-2863