OTTAWA – The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable, comprised of leaders across the travel and tourism industry – with representatives from airlines, airports, hotels, and travel organizations – is calling on the federal government to promote a responsible reboot of the travel and tourism industry during Canada’s National Tourism Week. The Roundtable is calling on the federal government to provide urgent relief at the border by alleviating pressures currently facing travellers at Canada’s airports before June 15, 2022.
The Roundtable appreciates recent decisions by the federal government to increase the number of Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) screening officers. However, these measures are longer-term solutions that will take weeks before materially impacting wait times for travellers at Canadian airports.
The Roundtable is therefore urging the federal government to take the following short-term actions, to alleviate pressure on the system, by no later than June 15, 2022:
- Remove vaccination mandates for Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers;
- Remove the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) duplicate health checks and questions through ArriveCan at government checkpoints
- Relocate or remove on-site mandatory random testing from Canada’s airports; and,
- Establish clear service standard benchmarks for security and customs processing of passengers travelling through Canadian airports.
Canadians can attend concerts, go to sporting events, and gather in significant numbers; travel should no longer be singled out with unscientific and unnecessary COVID policies which many countries around the world have rightfully removed.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel. In May, our hub airports began to see 70 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger traffic levels. Canada’s four hub airports are currently processing on average 56,000 international passengers a day this is forecasted to grow by 50 per cent per day this summer. It’s challenging to manage that level of traffic, with the left over, legacy public health protocols still in place at our international borders. It would normally take a customs agent 30 seconds to process a passenger and now it’s taking two to four times that because of public health protocols. Normal travel volumes cannot co-exist with current public health protocols in place within our airport facilities. We need the federal government to remove the remaining public health requirements at the border to immediately alleviate pressure on the system,” said Monette Pasher, Interim President of the Canadian Airports Council.
To help the sector recover, the Roundtable is urging the federal government to remove bottleneck, bureaucratic processes and streamline government checkpoints. The government needs to require their agencies need to meet their intended levels of service and performance benchmarks. This will provide predictability for travellers looking to depart and arrive in Canada.
Monitoring for potential COVID-19 variants can be accomplished through proven scientific options such as community wastewater testing, which is widely supported by scientific and medical communities. Canada’s airports simply do have the infrastructure or the space to provide on-site passenger testing for COVID-19.
As demand for travel returns and other global economies re-open, Canada’s border policies need to reflect the new reality, or risk being a country left behind. It is time for the Government of Canada to revisit COVID-19 pandemic restrictions placed on air travel, in line with a growing list of over 50 countries that have removed barriers to travel altogether,” said Suzanne Acton-Gervais, Interim President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada.
Canadians are ready to travel abroad, and international travellers are ready to travel to Canada. As demand for travel returns and other global economies re-open, Canada’s border policies and resources need to reflect the new reality.