Airport delays inevitable as border reopens to U.S. travellers on Aug. 9, and CBSA job action
Pearson International Airport, Toronto

Airport delays inevitable as border reopens to U.S. travellers on Aug. 9, and CBSA job action

TORONTO — Toronto Pearson has sent out a heads up with tips for travellers looking to minimize delays for the coming days and weeks, as the border reopens to fully vaccinated U.S. travellers starting Aug. 9.

Higher volume delays at Canadian airports currently in operation for international travel will be compounded by job action by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers starting today.

Here’s a look at what travellers can expect at Toronto Pearson…

HIGHER VOLUME DELAYS

“Toronto Pearson wants travellers who are planning a flight soon, or already have one booked, to be prepared for a different airport experience than prior to the pandemic. Delays are possible and longer wait times are to be expected due to increased passenger volume and COVID-19 health measures,” says a statement from Pearson.

“While Pearson is working closely with airlines and government agencies to find every efficiency possible, it may take longer to pass through the airport due to additional health screenings for COVID-19. The entire airport community is working together to ensure that passenger and employee health and safety remain the top priority.”

Departing passengers

Passengers departing on domestic flights are advised to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before their flight time. Passengers on departing international flights will want to arrive at least three hours in advance. Passengers should be prepared to answer additional questions from their airline and present them with any additional documents they may require. 

Passengers should confirm the specific requirements that apply to their destination in advance with their airline.

To help save time, passengers can check-in online from home and then use a contactless kiosk to print their luggage tags

Arriving passengers

International passengers should be prepared to wait three hours or more to complete the arrivals process due to COVID-19 screening requirements, depending on their unique set of circumstances. 

If a flight arrives during peak hours, passengers may be asked to disembark the aircraft and proceed to an area of the terminal building to wait until space becomes available in the customs hall. 

When going through customs, passengers will be required to answer additional health questions. Passengers arriving from international destinations should remember to submit all required information in ArriveCAN (app or website) prior to arrival in Canada. This includes travel, contact and quarantine information. Fully vaccinated travellers must also provide proof of vaccination in English or French. Travellers using the App must ensure that they have the most up-to-date version available in the Google Play Store and the App Store for iPhone.

Travellers eligible to enter Canada continue to be required to have a valid pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test result. 

Wearing a mask is mandatory for all passengers and airport employees in all areas of the terminal.

All passengers who are not fully vaccinated are required to test at the airport before leaving. 

Fully vaccinated travellers will not need to be tested upon arrival unless they are randomly selected by the government to complete an arrival test.

COVID-19 testing services are available at Toronto Pearson. The tests, conducted by Switch Health, are available to both departing passengers and members of the community who aren’t travelling but need access to testing services. Consumers and passengers can book tests in advance via Switch Health’s booking portal: switchhealth.ca/healthyairport

CBSA JOB ACTION

Meanwhile the union representing 9,000 CBSA workers says some job actions began today as negotiations with the government continued.

“Our bargaining team representing CBSA employees has been in mediation with CBSA and Treasury all night and through to this morning, and we’re giving them a bit more time to negotiate at the table,” the Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union said in a statement this morning.

“In the meantime, work-to-rule actions are underway at border crossings and airports across the country.”

A spokesman said actions were happening at every site across the country.

Work-to-rule can entail a wide range of actions that slow down operations, like refusing to work overtime, asking each border crosser every question in the manual to extend stops and full checks of receipts from cross-border shopping.

The union said it had been bargaining with the government since 2018 and it served a strike notice on Tuesday.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat confirmed mediation continued through Thursday night. “The Government is still at the table and will not walk away,” it said in a Friday statement.

With file from The Canadian Press