Canada Border Services Agency Employee Reviews

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4.0
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Interesting and varied work to last a full career
Senior Program Advisor (Former Employee) –  Ottawa, ON3 December 2018
Exposure to high-profile operational and enforcement issues, affecting all Canadians. Something for anyone interested in either programs/policy or operational delivery of programs.
Pros
variety of work, flexible hours often available
Cons
Bilingualism is essential to advance through management ranks.
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3.0
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Good people to work with
Operations Support Specialist (Current Employee) –  Ottawa, ON8 November 2018
Lack of leadership
Lack of Communication
People-oriented from management

Change resistance from within,

Short staff

A lot of people about to retire within the next 12 months
Pros
flexible hours
Cons
Lack of leadership and direction
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5.0
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Fast-paced environment; Client-service oriented
Student Border Services Officer (Former Employee) –  Richmond, BC25 October 2018
Excellent learning environment for law enforcement experience. Focus is on client-service, judgement and good communication skills.
Great workplace culture - especially for women
Great support system
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3.0
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Good job but short staffed and working without a contract
Border Services Officer (Current Employee) –  Sault Ste. Marie, ON6 October 2018
The actual job is fun, interesting and ever changing. However, due to the fact that we are consistently short staffed across the country and are once again working without a contract the workplace culture isn’t conducive to a positive and fun workplace.
Pros
Interesting, every day is different, active and constantly moving, firearm training is fun
Cons
Lower pay, working without a contract, low staff
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3.0
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Can Be A Great Job, Or A Dead End. Depends On What You Want.
Border Services Officer (Former Employee) –  Surrey, BC26 September 2018
CBSA loves to hype itself as an employer of choice, and there's no doubt it's an interesting job at times, depending on where you work. I used to love it, but then found it increasingly frustrating as the job got more bureaucratic and less self-directed.

A lot depends on where you work. People in small ports of entry often find themselves liking the slow pace and rural atmosphere, but young officers, eager to make seizures and arrests, can be frustrated. Air Traffic (talking to passengers) seems to have the most unhappy campers, followed by land border traffic. Busy ports mean lots of work, but you also learn very quickly.

A big problem for a mature applicant: The cadet pay allowance. When you're hired today, unlike in my time, you don't get an actual salary until you graduate the training program in Quebec, which runs at almost four months now. You do get a stipend to see you through, and all meals and accomodation are paid, but if you're carrying a mortgage, you're going to need to talk to your bank. And don't be surprised if that stipend doesn't show for weeks. I've heard horror stories.

The money trouble doesn't end when you report for your first shift. Heard of the Phoenix system? Be prepared for screw-ups when you change assignments, go on leave, act in another role, etc.

Here's some things you'll probably have to deal with, if you work in a big, busy port like I did:

-Roadtimes. Think you like talking to people? You might change your mind when you have to ask 60 cars an hour the exact same questions.
-Paperwork: Immigration duties generate the most,
  more... but anything enforcement related can keep you at the computer for hours. Refugee claims are the absolute worst.
-Negativity: Lots of people will hate you, and that negative attitude can be reflected in the way you look at life. Humour, usually the dark variety, is your best defence.
-Politics: Expect to see bosses take a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. Expect policies whose main role is to cover HQ's butt. Again, it's hard not to get cynical.
-Violence: It's a fact of the job, so get used to it. Take your use of force training seriously, get a range membership, and use the 1000 rounds a year they give you for practice. You WILL deal with violent people, and some of them WILL try to hurt you.
-Other Bad Things: You may have to look at some awful pornography. You may strip search people looking for drugs and money. Some of those people will be frankly disgusting. You may have to listen to sex offenders tell you "she asked for it", (without punching them-it's hard) and other things that people of a sensitive disposition should avoid.
Scrutiny: Everyone's got a camera, and a lot of them want to catch you screwing up. If you wouldn't do it in front of a judge, you can't do it, period.

Good stuff? Nobody dozes off when you tell them what you do. It can be a very interesting job. In my career, I dealt with pretty much every kind of case imaginable, drugs, terrorism, gangs, weapons, robbery, you name it. I really used to enjoy to going to work.

But you will get frustrated if you want a more "policing" style environment. CBSA is run by career bureaucrats, civilians, who don't really want to be police chiefs. If you think CBSA is equivalent to getting an RCMP or other police job, think again. At best, you can use it as a stepping stone. At worst, it's a dead end.

I think this job is best for people who want a "law enforcement lite" type job. People who really want to be cops should skip this step unless there's nothing else available at the moment. People in their early 20's, with no real financial commitments, who want an interesting job with limited potential for chaos will probably be more comfortable here. The pay and benefits are really good, the uniforms are cool, yeah, there's a gun and a badge, and you will have some interesting stories. But if you really want to spend your days chasing bad guys I think you should go somewhere else.
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Pros
Pay, benefits, interest, security, diverse workplace locations
Cons
Shift work, boredom, stress, frustration, scrutiny
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5.0
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Excellent agency to work for
Criminal Investigator (Current Employee) –  Halifax, NS9 August 2018
CBSA promotes the culture whereby one can feel extreme pride in fulfilling their law enforcement goal. They are supporting of diversity, assisting in Officers attaining their goals, and promote a work/life balance.
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5.0
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Secure the border
Customs Inspector (Former Employee) –  Mississauga, ON12 July 2018
Great place to work if you can close eyes to political correctness and ridiculous inclusion for everyone, even non residents. Other than that I had fun. Too bad I had to leave due to family loss
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5.0
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At CBSA my team was a great team of guys
Senior IT Analyst (Former Employee) –  Ottawa, ON3 July 2018
Working at CBSA was a great experience I have the opportunity to work with some very smart people both in and outside work I value my friendship and work commodity with my team mates.
Pros
Really enjoyed working on my own at some of us sites
Cons
Not happy with manager
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5.0
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amazing place to work
Student Administrative Clerk (Former Employee) –  Ottawa, ON13 February 2018
cannot say enough good things about cbsa, I would love to make a career out of this multi faceted work environment. the only down side is the lack of contract with the professional association.
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4.0
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Great co-workers and work environment
Administrative Assistant (Former Employee) –  Abbotsford, BC29 January 2018
I worked for CBSA as a student and I liked my job while it lasted. I was working on a contract, which was renewed many times. Management at my port of entry was not greatest, I felt like they picked their favourites and favoured them. Overall, it was a good place to work at, I learned a lot and it was definitely good work experience.
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3.0
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You get what you put in to it
Border Services Officer (Current Employee) –  Surrey, BC22 January 2018
This is a very typical government organization that is reactive at best. The job itself is best but unfortunately everything that comes with it tends to make it a negative experience.
Pros
Salary and Benefits, the Job itself
Cons
Politics and Toxic Work Environment
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1.0
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It is a pay check
Border Services Officer (Current Employee) –  Greater Toronto Area, ON15 January 2018
Go work with a respected police agency, better pay, and your still jumping through the loops and hurdles.
If your family works here you are a shoe in for upper management regardless how useless you are.
Pros
Every second Wednesday is pay day
Cons
Negative work environment, negative management, rediculous system implementation, Phoenix pay system
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4.0
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excellent benefits, good compensation and solid future
Regional Program Services Officer (Current Employee) –  Vancouver, BC16 October 2017
A good solid government agency to work for with excellent pension and other benefits. The office work can be very high paced and high stress or it can be very relaxed depending on public opinion and the news of the day.
Pros
wages, benefits, pension
Cons
government, limited employee recognition, everchanging priorities
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5.0
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Great
Student Border Services Officer (Former Employee) –  Winnipeg, MB18 September 2017
Great career to have and a great place to work. Application process takes a long time and have to go through many steps as well. If you pass you have to go to their college for 4 months.
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5.0
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Cbsa
STUDENT HR ADVISOR (Former Employee) –  Mississauga, ON16 September 2017
Great experience overall. A typical day includes mainly administrative tasks (answering emails, fixing client issues). Team is extremely helpful. Great work environment.
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5.0
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Great place to work
Student Clerk and Temp BSO (Current Employee) –  Niagara Falls, ON2 September 2017
Love the job and atmosphere. The pay increases every year when attending school which is beneficial. Full time hours in summer and opportunity to work during the school year.
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5.0
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Federal Government
Records Clerk - Contract (Current Employee) –  Point Edward, ON15 August 2017
Busy place to work. Everyone is very nice and respectful. There are two buildings Traffic and Commercial. Bridge Authority looks after the tolls and work on the Bridge.
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5.0
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Great team!
Junior Program Officer (Former Employee) –  Ottawa, ON8 July 2017
Loved working here! Great with helping pursue my educational goals. Working here as a student, they really accommodated me with hours that worked around my hectic school schedule during the year.
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5.0
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Great agency to work for!
Student Clerk (Former Employee) –  Niagara Falls, ON2 May 2017
Excellent work environment, great supervisors and co-workers. Lots of opportunity to work overtime. If you work hard, you will be rewarded. Absolutely no complaints.
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4.0
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A government Agency still trying to find its own identity
Regional Arming Coordinator (Former Employee) –  Ontario21 April 2017
Some management are struggling to do the right thing. Being coerced to do things that are not in line with accepted HR practices is a common practice.
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Overall rating

4.0
Based on 59 reviews
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3.8Work/Life Balance
4.2Salary/Benefits
3.6Job Security/Advancement
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