Ottawa’s plan to reduce congestion at airports has not taken off

At least the wait no longer happens in a stifling basement. But the numerous renovations in recent years do not prevent travelers arriving at Montreal-Trudeau Airport from sometimes waiting for hours before they can return to the country, because the problem is a staff shortage. The situation could worsen if it is not taken into account properly by the Canada Border Services Agency, Customs and Immigration Union fears.

The front row bears witness to the extended waiting times that travelers have faced entering Canada in recent days, and the Customs Union criticizes the ‘poorly planned half-measures’ contained in the Border Services Agency’s 2022 Action Plan (ASFC) to improve border fluidity over the summer. The organization calculates that it currently lacks between 1,000 and 3,000 agents, at the dawn of a holiday period that promises to be as busy as it was during the best years before the pandemic.

An indication that Montreal International Airport traffic has rebounded strongly from its epidemic decline, as passenger traffic that took off and landed last April was equivalent to 72% of traffic in April 2019, according to the latest data. Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) Day.

“For the month of May, we can estimate a recovery of approximately 80% of passenger traffic in 2019,” said Eric Forrest, ADM spokesperson. “We expect these numbers to rise as well in June,” he adds.

Insufficient measures

“We are concerned about the measures proposed by the agency [des services frontaliers] “It only serves to further inconvenience to travelers and puts border security at risk,” Mark Webber, president of the National Federation of Customs and Immigration, said in a statement on Monday. “Minister [fédéral de la Sécurité publique] Marco Mendicino and the Canada Border Services Agency should increase the number of officers without delay in order to prevent further curtailment of services to travelers. »

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The Federation regrets the fact that stricter labor procedures are imposed on agents who have already been employed by the Federal Agency, a short-term strategy, according to it, that will not correct the situation in the long term. A business plan, the union notes, is a set of “unplanned midterms,” ​​such as mandatory overtime, job extensions, and outright refusal of discretionary leave.

As a result, Canadian and foreign travelers returning to the country will have to be patient this summer, and possibly for the next few seasons. Mark Webber fears: “As Canadians begin to travel again, the Canada Border Services Agency is ill-equipped to handle the increasing influx of travelers at the border, and the government is not ready to change course.” If the government is serious about eliminating long waiting times for years to come, it needs to hire more officers. »

Trusted Models

For its part, the Canada Border Services Agency relies on its analysis and traffic forecasts and says it is able to deploy resources in the right place at the right time. explained in an email to Should.

The agency says it is aware of the increase in traffic at border crossings and airports in recent weeks, and is therefore promising to add resources as necessary. She cites the example of adding kiosks at major airports across the country and bringing in student border agents to help accommodate more travelers.

For his part, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said he is open to the customs union’s proposals to help respond to the increase in passenger traffic into the country. He told Should His journalistic employee is Audrey Chambox.

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“We share the goal of ensuring that all Canadians can travel this summer without undue hassle or delay, and that CBSA officers must be appropriately supported in carrying out their important work.”

With Clemence Pavic

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