The Canadian government working to rollback COVID red tape in hopes of resuming consumer confidence
By: Charlotte Hui
Nearly half a million passengers were stranded at Toronto’s Pearson Airport last month. According to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA.), about 490,810 travelers were stuck on the tarmac in customs and security areas, ultimately delaying about 2,700 flights.
On Monday, the Ministers for Transport, Health, Public Safety, Tourism, and Finance: issued a statement; “the Canadian government would work with six major airports and airlines, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), NAV CANADA, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), And the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to address the large number of passengers stranded at Canadian airports.”
- The statement proposes several measures: Increase the number of CATSA screeners providing security checks by 1000.
- Suspend mandatory COVID-19 testing for travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 until June 30.
- Accept more students border Service officers working at airports.
- Provide additional kiosks in the airport concourse.
- Add extra staff to check passengers on ArriveCAN during certain holidays.
The statement said， “Our efforts continue to have a positive impact. Wait times at security lines continue to go down at Toronto Pearson International Airport, with about 91 percent of passengers being screened within 15 minutes. Calgary International Airport also saw a slight overall improvement, with about 86 percent of passengers now screened within 15 minutes. About 84 percent of passengers were screened within 15 minutes at Vancouver International Airport, which is fewer than the previous week, but still a significant improvement since mid-May. About 85 percent of passengers were screened within 15 minutes at Montreal Trudeau International Airport, similar to the previous week.”
However, many see the deployment of 1,000 extra personnel as a drop in the bucket.
Duncan Dee, a former Air Canada executive, said the chaos at Toronto’s Pearson Airport could continue into Labor Day.
“In terms of the customs delays, until the pandemic-era inspections are changed, I hate to think that this is something that’s going to plague us through the entire summer,”
“Things should get a little bit easier for those travelling after Labour Day. Unfortunately, that’s also when schools get back so families won’t be able to travel as much.” Dee said.
Deborah Flint, GTAA Chief Executive, also states Toronto’s Pearson Airport faces unique challenges because it is the largest airport in the country and a global connectivity hub, with much higher passenger numbers than other cities.