Ottawa is acting against car thefts, says Treasury Board’s Anita Anand

Vehicle theft is leaving its mark on thousands of Canadian and Quebec households

With auto theft incidents across Quebec and Canada soaring as never before, federal Treasury Board President Anita Anand tells Newsfirst Multimedia that the Trudeau government is raising Canada Border Services Agency funding by $28 million for more stolen vehicle investigations – including some that will be using artificial intelligence (AI).

Federal Treasury Board President Anita Anand was one of the five Trudeau cabinet ministers who recently took part in the Liberal government’s National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft in Ottawa.

Anand was one of the five Trudeau cabinet ministers who recently took part in the Liberal government’s National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft in Ottawa.

The issue is impacting the portfolios of several Quebec-based cabinet ministers, including Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

Ministers’ SUVs stolen

The New York Times reported last month in a piece looking at how Canada has become a “candy store” for car thieves that two government-issued Toyota Highlander SUVs were stolen three times in Ottawa from the current and previous justice ministers.

Auto theft is leaving its mark on thousands of Canadian households every year, particularly in urban centres. Discussions held at the summit focused on finding solutions to the growing challenge of auto theft in Canada.

Federal, provincial and municipal police have concluded that the car theft wave increasingly involves organized crime groups, who are using the proceeds of those thefts to fund other illegal activities.

In a press release, Public Safety Canada, which organized the national summit, said the gathering “advanced work to keep Canadians safe and prevent auto theft from happening, to recover vehicles that have been stolen, and to ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.”

Significant gathering, says Anand

At the conclusion of the summit, participants endorsed a Statement of Intent, committing to work together to combat auto theft, and to finalize an action plan that will be released before the end of this winter.

“The auto theft summit was significant because it brought together stakeholders from across the country, industries, border services agents, frontline police, as well as the auto manufacturers, with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments,” said Anand.

“Never before have we had a conference like this to convene a conversation about how we can each do better to combat auto theft,” she added, noting that 54 cars were recently intercepted by the Sûreté du Québec at the Port of Montreal before they could be clandestinely exported out of the country. “That just highlights how we are making progress, but there’s much more work to do – together and individually.”

What Ottawa is doing

Recent immediate actions undertaken by the federal government to combat auto theft include:

  • A $28 million injection to the CBSA to conduct more investigations and examinations of stolen vehicles, as well as to enhance collaboration on investigations and intelligence sharing with partners across Canada and internationally. This would includes exploring detection technology solutions, and exploring the use of advanced analytical tools, such as artificial intelligence.
  • Pursuing all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero, which would allow for the removal of those devices from the Canadian marketplace through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

More tools against car theft

Additionally, the government says it is using the following tools and authorities to further curb auto theft:

  • Establishing a means of better information sharing between local police and railway police, including through the use of advanced data tools, to identify and find stolen cars before they get to ports.
  • Public Safety Canada, the CBSA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will work with partners across Canada and internationally to increase collaboration and information sharing.
  • Transport Canada will modernize the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to ensure they consider technological advancements to deter and prevent auto theft. The department will also work with public safety partners to identify cargo handling vulnerabilities through targeted security assessments of port facilities.
  • The Department of Justice Canada will examine potential amendments to the criminal code to further strengthen the legal framework related to auto theft, including by reviewing existing offences and penalties.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will work with Canadian companies, including the automotive industry, to develop innovative solutions to protect vehicles against theft.
Federal Treasury Board President Anita Anand launched a new initiative to promote the presence of Black public servants during the recent Black History Month.

Black public service initiative

In February during Black History Month, Anita Anand presided at the launch of a new Treasury Board of Canada initiative, an Action Plan to support Black public servants in federal government workplaces.

In Budget 2023, the Trudeau government committed an additional $45.9 million to complement initial funding in Budget 2022 for a Black mental health fund.

As a result, nearly $50 million is supporting the creation and development of the Action Plan for Black Public Servants, to establish career development programs and mental health supports for Black public servants.

Some specifics of the program:

  • Health Canada is receiving funding for Black-centric enhancements to the Employee Assistance Program provided to more than 90 federal departments and agencies.
  • The Canada School of Public Service is receiving funding to launch an executive leadership program for Black executives to support their career advancement.
  • The Public Service Commission (PSC) is receiving funding to provide individualized assessment, counselling and coaching services to Black public servants.

“These and future investments will continue to be guided by the lived experiences of Black public servants,” said Anand.

“We will keep working with Black public servants to address all forms of anti-Black racism and discrimination because a diverse, inclusive, safe, and rewarding public service not only benefits employees, but it also strengthens our organizations and improves our service delivery for Canadians.”