As the “the busiest travel season of the year” begins, government officials released an update on airport wait times on Monday (June 20), stating that efforts to improve operations “continue to have a positive impact.”
The joint statement was issued by Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault.
"The Government of Canada recognizes the impact that significant wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers,” the statement reads. “This is a global phenomenon due to the increase in air traffic across the world.”
The politicians said Transport Canada, PHAC, CBSA, CATSA, NAV CANADA, airports and airlines continue to meet regularly to find solutions to address bottlenecks affecting travel, including at pre-board security screening and pre-clearance departure checkpoints and in customs halls.
Minister Alghabra will also be meeting with the CEOs of the six largest 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) this week to ensure ongoing collaboration.
Officials noted that airports, this week, will see a higher number of travellers.
At Toronto Pearson (arguably the worst offender for wait times currently), wait times at security lines continue to go down, with about 91 percent of passengers now being screened within 15 minutes, officials said.
Calgary International Airport also saw a slight overall improvement, with about 86 per cent of passengers now screened within 15 minutes.
About 84 percent of passengers were screened within 15 minutes at Vancouver International, 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 airport, which is “similar to the previous week.”
An update on the removal of metering – the process of holding passengers on arriving aircraft for long periods of time – was not shared.
Since April, nearly 1,000 CATSA screening officers have been hired across Canada, officials said.
With this, the number of screening officers at Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International is now over 100 percent of the targeted requirements for this summer based on projected traffic.
CBSA and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority say they are making available additional kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport customs hall areas.
CBSA and PHAC have also streamlined the process to identify travellers who are required to undergo testing at Toronto Pearson.
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. Vaccinated travellers, meanwhile, will be give take-home test kits at random.
ArriveCAN is still mandatory for all travellers to Canada and PHAC is adding additional staff on select days to verify that travellers have completed their questionnaire submissions on arrival, officials said.
"We recognize that there is still work to be done; and we will continue to work with partners to reduce the delays in the travel system and to report back to Canadians,” officials said.