Changes designed to fix no-fly list false flags come into force

Major changes to help prevent Canadian children from being falsely flagged on the no-fly list are officially coming into effect, giving families new options to avoid airport delays and the stress of potentially being denied boarding.

For years, a group of Canadians with young children whose names match those on the no-fly list have pushed the federal government for a solution to revamp passenger screening.

The government rolled out a test system earlier this year that gave those families the option of applying for a unique, designated Canadian Travel Number. It’s also taking over the responsibility for cross-checking passenger lists with the no-fly list from the airlines.

The ability to file online applications for those new travel numbers is set to open in the next two weeks.

The regulations bringing those changes into force take effect as of Wednesday, a move the government says will reduce discrimination and better protect the privacy of Canadian travellers.

“We assured concerned parents we would work to ensure this never happened again,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in question period on Wednesday.

“We can all agree that 10-year-olds should not have to worry about being publicly singled out while trying to watch their favourite hockey team in action.”

The group No Fly List Kids has been advocating for the changes for several years now, sharing their personal stories of children being falsely flagged by airlines after their names matched those of another individual on the Canadian no-fly list.

Among those is group founder Khadija Cajee, who has shared how her 10-year-old son Adam has been repeatedly flagged as having a name that either matches or closely matches someone on the list.

Because of that, the family routinely faces additional security screening that can cause hours of delays.

Cajee and others who have been advocating for change celebrated the move on Wednesday.

The federal government allocated $80 million in Budget 2018 to fix the problem, which then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale explained at the time would require building a new computer system from the ground up, and much of that funding didn’t kick in until this last fiscal year.

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