Yusuf Ahmed, 19, top left to right, Saif-Ullah Khan, 17, Aadam Ahmed 18, Adam Ahmed, 19, bottom left to right, David Matthews, 6, Adam Ahmed, 8, Alia Mohamed, 4, are shown in Ottawa, as the families of children and youth who keep getting stopped because their names match ones on security lists meet, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Families losing patience for no-fly kids

A Nanaimo family is part of the group as their four-year-old daughter remains on a no-fly list

A gaggle of young constituents and their parents are heading to Ottawa to press politicians to resolve ongoing airport hassles children face due to security list snags.

Ten families from the group known as the No Fly List Kids plan to make their case to MPs and ministers with the aim of ensuring that funding for a new computer system to fix the problem is included in the 2018 federal budget.

Parents of children who have repeatedly endured nerve-wracking airport delays because a youngster’s name matches one on a no-fly list say federal security legislation now before Parliament will do nothing in the short term to ease their woes.

The government is proposing an amendment to the Secure Air Travel Act that would allow the public safety minister to tell parents that their child is not on the Canadian no-fly list, meaning the name simply matches that of someone who is actually listed. The government says this would provide assurance to parents about their child’s status.

The legislation, part of a broad package of security-related measures, would also allow federal officials to electronically screen air passenger information against the list, a process currently in the hands of airlines. The government says this would prevent false name matches by enabling it to issue unique redress numbers for pre-flight verification of identity.

But it also means creating a new computer system to do the job.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said the department appreciates the frustration of travellers and wants to reassure them that work on long-term improvements continues.

“However, it will take time to make regulatory and database changes to support a redress system. We are grateful for the patience and understanding of those affected in the meantime.”

Families were disappointed funds for the new system did not turn up in the last federal budget, and they’re beginning to lose patience.

In June 2016 the government created an inquiries office to help resolve travellers’ problems. But the No Fly List Kids group, which now includes more than 100 youngsters, says the difficulties persist.

In addition, the group says, the mismatches often involve Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding names, raising the question of charter of rights guarantees of equality under the law.

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