The Parliamentary Budget Officer revealed on Tuesday, 31MAY, that the federal government’s commitment to help reduce lineups and delays at Canada’s busiest airports involves increasing spending to the tune of $330-million.
As the Globe&Mail reports, that’s part of nearly $10-billion in “supplementary spending” that was not part of the government’s MAR budget.
And the investment comes as the report says airlines in Canada are set to “fly about 80- to 90- per cent of their pre-pandemic schedules this summer to meet rising demand.”
As Open Jaw has been reporting, recent chaos, including pax missing flights and aircraft being held on the tarmac for hours before being allowed to deplane, have attributed in part to acute security and border services staffing shortages.
Friday, 27MAY, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, issued a statement saying the government “recognize(s) we need to do more—and we will.”
Beefed-up measures include more CATSA officers for screening outbound pax. Alghabra said that 400 new officers are being fast-tracked into service.
According to the Globe report, the boost in funds allocated to CATSA brings the agency’s budget up to about $900-million, which is on par with its spending in the year prior to the pandemic.
As for arrivals, the government statement said it’s on top of inbound delays, “including with planes holding at the gates at Toronto Pearson International Airport.”
CBSA and YYZ “are taking action by adding 25 kiosks to speed up processing time. CBSA is also initiating the Summer Action Plan to ensure efficiency; increasing available officer capacity; and easing the return of Student Border Services Officers,” the statement said.
The travel industry has also called on Ottawa to reduce or eliminate “legacy” Public Health COVID requirements like random testing that are also blamed for bogging down the smooth transit of pax through Canada’s airports.
However, Health Canada announced 31MAY that it was maintaining all current COVID health procedures at Canada’s borders for at least another month. That includes random entry testing, and submitting health and travel information on the ArriveCAN app. The government’s own statement on 27MAY admitted that arrivals without complete ArriveCAN health reporting are automatically processed as “unvaccinated” - and therefore create among the biggest logjams in airports.