Canada to boost airport security spend by C$330 million

Airport security funding C$330m boost

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Recruiting security staff is the number one concern for airports across Canada as passenger numbers soars to pre-pandemic levels. But failure to replace trained staff, laid off in 2020 and 2021, is contributing to long delays

The federal government has boosted spending on Canadian airport security by C$330-million to end the long passenger queues at airports.

It was reported by the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week as a part of C$9.7-billion in additional spending not included within the 2022 funds permitted in March.

Airports have suffered long delays because of a lack of security personnel and a soaring demand for air travel as pandemic restrictions were lifted. Countries around the world have seen similar problems as many airport staff laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic, have been difficult to replace.

The shortage has led to protests by security and screening staff who say working conditions are unacceptable as they wait for new recruits but some are choosing to quit.

“The new funding would allow Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to better manage the continuing growth in demand for Canadian air travel,” the report stated.

CATSA brokers checked a complete of 117,617 passengers at the eight largest airports on 29 May, in contrast with 15,815 on the same day last year.

Canada’s airways are planning to fly about 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic schedules this summer season to meet demand.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was reported to have praised the funding increase in a statement Tuesday. She said: “I understand the frustration that many travelers have faced and the impacts that these delays are having on our people and our economy,” she wrote. “As we start to gear up to pre-pandemic levels of air travel, we need to be able to provide a pre-pandemic level of service — and today’s announcement does just that.”

A CBC report in British Colombia covered protests by dozens of security screening officers at a rally outside Vancouver International Airport to call for better pay and improved working conditions. 

Dave Flowers, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 140, told CBC many security screeners who were laid off during the pandemic didn’t return to the job when travel demand picked up. Those who did come back faced subpar wages and challenging working conditions, said the report. 

“We’re talking about difficulty with management, breaks that are not being respected — that’s lunch and washroom breaks — health and safety issues, poor treatment just in general,” said Flowers. 

Conditions have led to more departures, he said, creating a “vicious circle” where remaining workers are asked to do more for less. Full CBC story HERE

Read more about the federal grant announced Tuesday 31 May HERE

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