Canadian Airport Wait Times Have Been Ridiculous — Here's What The Gov't Is Doing

Will it be enough?

Senior Editor
Montreal-Trudeau Airport.

Montreal-Trudeau Airport.

After weeks of reports of extreme wait times in security and customs lines at Canadian airports, federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra gave an update on May 27 on progress toward actually doing something about it, including hiring more CATSA officers and, at Pearson in Toronto, increasing the number of CBSA kiosks for inbound international travellers.

"The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers," Alghabra said in the statement.

"We are taking action to quickly address delays while continuing to maintain adequate security screening."

At the beginning of May, CATSA pointed to a "significant number of layoffs throughout the aviation industry, including the security-screening workforce" as one reason for persistent delays. The Transport Minister said the authority is now on schedule to deploy around 400 new recruits to help with pre-boarding security screenings by the end of the month.

He added that CATSA is assigning screening officers in training "to carry out non-screening functions" to "allow certified screening officers to focus their efforts on key security functions."

On the inbound side, the CBSA is adding 25 kiosks at Pearson to get lines moving more quickly. (No word on whether Montreal-Trudeau will also be getting more CBSA kiosks.)

Finally, the PHAC is eliminating mandatory random COVID-19 testing for travellers connecting from international to domestic flights.

"The Government of Canada recognizes the urgency of the situation," Alghabra concluded.

"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."

There was no mention of efforts to reduce wait times at U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance checkpoints.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.
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