The Government of Canada intends to work with airports and air carriers to reduce airport wait times by hiring screening officers, adding kiosks and e-gates, and updating passenger security information.
In response to the airport delays, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has been increasing the number of officers at passenger screening checkpoints. Currently, there are approximately 400 additional screening officers in different phases of their training across the country who will be deployed between now and the end of June. With the support of Transport Canada (TC), these recruits will progress more quickly through a more flexible onboarding process so they can be on the ground as quickly as possible. Airports are working to support CATSA with this initiative. According to the Government of Canada, CATSA is close to having recruited 100% of its target numbers of screening officers for the summer in many airports, including Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport.
Alongside this, CATSA has also accelerated the use of pre-certified screening officers to carry out non-screening functions, optimize resources, and enable certified screening officers to focus their efforts on key security functions. Airports, airlines and other partners are communicating with CATSA daily to adjust their scheduling to ensure screeners are available where and when they are needed to support busy travel times as air travel quickly recovers. The organization is also studying best practices at airports to see where these processes can be applied to other airports to gain efficiencies. The Canadian government has stated that since the beginning of May 2022, the number of passengers waiting 30 minutes and more for outbound screening at Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International, Montreal Trudeau International and Calgary International has been halved.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Toronto Pearson International Airport are adding 25 kiosks to speed up the processing time. CBSA is also initiating the Summer Action Plan to ensure efficiency by increasing available officer capacity and easing the return of student border services officers. Furthermore, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with CBSA and partners to streamline their operations. For example, they will be removing the requirement for mandatory random testing on the international to the domestic connections process.
Airports, airlines and the Government of Canada, including CATSA, PHAC, TC and the CBSA, are improving communications with travelers so passengers can better anticipate pre-boarding screening and arrival processing requirements, facilitating a smoother passage in and out of airports. For example, travelers that are 16 years old or older can use new e-gates at Toronto Pearson International Airport to verify their identity and submit their customs and immigration declaration, which will improve the traffic flow at the Terminal 1 arrival hall and speed up processing. Similarly, travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport can use the Advanced CBSA Declaration on the web version of the Canadian entry information platform ArriveCAN to make their customs and immigration declaration up to 72 hours in advance of flying into Canada. This feature will be integrated into the ArriveCAN mobile app this summer and will also be made available at other airports across Canada in the coming months.
The Honorable Omar Alghabra, the Canadian Minister of Transport, and the Honorable Marco Mendicino, the Canadian Minister of Public Safety, said in a statement, “The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travelers. It is great news that more and more Canadians are choosing to travel. As travel volume surges, there are reports of delays in many aspects of travel: Canadian customs, United States customs, airport security screening, luggage handling, airline services, taxis and limos, among many other areas. We are also witnessing similar phenomena at other airports around the world. Having said that, we are taking action to quickly address delays while continuing to maintain adequate security screening. We are working with airports, air carriers and other airport partners to find solutions to reduce delays in airports in advance of the summer peak season. The goal of this collaboration is to ensure efficient services for inbound and outbound passengers, so Canadians are able to travel smoothly and safely as the sector recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the urgency of the situation and continues to work with all partners to address wait times as a matter of priority. With additional CATSA screeners and CBSA Border Services Officers in place and coming, and ongoing discussions to further reduce the delays, some progress has been made, but we recognize we need to do more – and we will. We will take clear and decisive action to ensure the safety, security and resiliency of Canada’s transportation system, its employees, and its users while supporting economic recovery.”