TORONTO — With a month to go before the start of the summer 2022 travel season, and with lineups and delays at Toronto Pearson and other airports still causing headaches, the federal government is outlining measures aimed at alleviating the bottlenecks.
Delays for passengers both inbound and outbound at Pearson and other major gateways across the country have made headlines in recent weeks, with tales of missed flights, hours-long tarmac waits and flaring tempers putting a damper on travel’s much-needed recovery.
CATSA apologized, and then the GTAA weighed in, and then ACTA, and later, IATA. The situation has gotten so bad, earlier this month came word that someone suggested cancelling flights as a possible solution.
On May 26, during Rendez-vous Canada, Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault said an announcement could be coming soon.
Then on May 27, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino released a joint statement outlining steps the government is taking, and will take, to get travel moving again through Canada’s airports.
Key takeaways from the statement (available in full here) is that CATSA has been working with its contractors to increase the number of screening officers at passenger screening checkpoints. An additional 400 screening officers will be deployed between now and the end of June, at airports across the country.
Among several other measures, CATSA is also “very 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, says Alghabra and Mendicino.
“While more remains to be done, these efforts are paying off through declining wait times for screening. Since the beginning of the month, the number of passengers waiting 30 minutes and more for outbound screening at our largest airports (Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International, Montreal Trudeau International and Calgary International), has been halved across all four airports,” they say.
Efforts are also underway to alleviate delays for arriving passengers, including delays with planes holding at the gates at Pearson. The statement includes mention of more CBSA kiosks and other CBSA initiatives.
Alghabra and Mendicino also note that PHAC is working with CBSA and partners to streamline their operations – including removing the requirement for mandatory random testing on the international to domestic connections process. Other changes to streamline processing on public health grounds are being developed, they say.
So far however there’s no indication that ArriveCAN will be shelved any time soon. “The simplest thing travellers can do to speed up their airport experience is to come prepared, including completing ArriveCAN,” according to the statement. “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.”
Questioned on Friday during CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Alghabra said that “for me it’s vitally important that we act quickly and prepare for the summer season.”
He added: “We’re going to see more and more relief coming into place.”