Ottawa Creates Task Force to Solve Airport Bottlenecks

Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Toronto Pearson International Airport.

In a well-meaning joint statement issued by a bevy of federal ministers, Ottawa is attempting to show good faith in solving airport-gate.

The statement is entitled ‘Government of Canada continues to work with airports and air carriers to reduce traveller wait times’ and comes from the offices of Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport; Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health; Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety; and Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance.

The intention is to provide “an update on further actions that the federal government is taking to reduce delays at Canada's airports.”

The ministers note that measures are already having an impact as wait times for for security "continue to decrease at all major airports” with only three per cent of all passengers at YYZ and YVR are now waiting more than 30 minutes in line.

The list of measures are as follows:

  • The creation of a task force comprised of Transport Canada (TC), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), and key industry partners intended to to find solutions to address bottlenecks at pre-board security screening and pre-clearance departure checkpoints, and customs halls.
  • Increased the number of CATSA screening officers to almost 100 per cent of summer targets at YYZ and YVR. Hiring continues, with 644 new CATSA recruits in Canada's four largest airports, and 865 total across Canada with more than 2,000 applications for screening positions being processed.
  • Ottawa continues to recommend travellers use the ArriveCAN app before reaching the airport to reduce delays/ In addition, PHAC is adding additional staff on select days at airports to verify that travellers have completed their ArriveCAN and assist travellers if they are unable to submit information on the app.
  • PHAC is working with CBSA and partners to streamline operations, and has already removed the requirement for Mandatory Random Testing on the International to Domestic Connections Process at all airports as of 01JUN.
  • Airports, airlines, and security providers are working with CATSA to adjust scheduling to ensure screeners are available during peak periods.
  • CBSA and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority have made 25 kiosks available in the customs hall areas at YYZ.
  • CBSA has increased officer availability, and Student Border Services Officers are now at work.
  • TC, airports and airlines have increased communication with travellers through social media, signage and multimedia screens to better prepare passengers for the pre-boarding screening and arrival processing requirements.

"We will continue to take quick and decisive actions to ensure that Canada is ready to welcome back domestic and international tourists while prioritizing their safety and well-being," the Ministers added.

"We recognize that we have more work to do, particularly for international arrivals at our largest airports, and we will continue to work with all orders of governments and partners to reduce the delays in the travel system."

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