Experts question Ottawa's negative COVID 19 test for air travellers from China

Federal govt. says airport wait times are down, and more improvements on the way

OTTAWA — The federal government says it is making progress on reducing traveller wait times at Canada’s major airports, along with its airline partners.

The latest statement from key players including Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, Randy Boissonnault, and more, outlines the latest improvements.

Here’s the list …

  • Hiring of CATSA screening officers continues. Since April, nearly 900 CATSA screening officers have been hired across Canada. CATSA has now met its summer hiring target, and matched its pre-pandemic staffing levels at the four largest airports. CBSA is also maximizing officer availability and additional Student Border Services Officers are now at work.
  • As of June 11, mandatory randomized COVID-19 testing has been temporarily suspended at all airports until June 30. As of July 1, all test swabbing, including for unvaccinated travellers, will be performed off-site.
  • Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), and key industry partners continue to meet regularly to find solutions to address bottlenecks at pre-board security screening and pre-clearance departure checkpoints, and customs halls.
  • Prioritizing the issuance of Transportation Security Clearances and Restricted Area Identity Cards for CATSA screening officers is occurring to expedite the hiring process and build immediate capacity.
  • CBSA and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority are making available additional kiosks at Toronto Pearson customs hall areas.
  • Increasing communication with travellers and stakeholders through social media, signage and multimedia screens is better preparing them for the pre-board screening and arrival processing requirements and facilitating a smoother passage in and out of airports.
  • PHAC is adding additional staff on select days at airports to verify that travellers have completed their ArriveCAN submissions on arrival and further inform air travellers about the importance of the mandatory requirements. PHAC staff will assist travellers in completing ArriveCAN if they were unable to do so.

Traveller wait times for pre-board passenger screening at Canadian airports are on the decline, says the government.

During the week of June 3-9, an average of 10% of departing passengers waited more than 15 minutes at Toronto Pearson, compared to 23% during the week of May 9-15.

For the same dates at Vancouver Airport, this improved to 13% from 26% of departing passengers who waited more than 15 minutes.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers. We continue to work with airports, airlines, baggage handlers, and other partners to implement solutions to reduce delays as we approach the summer peak season,” say the ministers.

“We recognize that there is still work to be done, particularly for international arrivals at our largest airports, and we will continue to work with partners to reduce the delays in the travel system.”