Long Canadian airport lines lead to push for loosened restrictions

By CityNews Staff

The lines are getting longer at some of Canada’s major airports and officials are calling on the government to ease COVID rules ahead of the busy travel season.

Given the level of vaccination among the population, Canadian Airports Council interim president Monette Pasher is urging to loosen what she calls legacy public health requirements initiated at an early stage in the pandemic.

“We really need to eliminate some of the public health requirements that have been here since the start of COVID. To come into Canada, as we’ve opened up, I think we need to look at this because when we had little to no traffic, we could manage these health protocols. But as we ramp up back to normal traffic at our airports, we’re not able to sustain the health protocols in our in our system,” Pasher told CityNews.

She says there are a multitude of issues at Canadian airports causing back ups, and long waits, including staffing shortages, and increased travel, which she says also raises security concerns.

“We are seeing a couple of different issues at our airports in terms of staffing shortages for security screening as travel ramp back up. So really the aviation industry overall has labor challenges, and we’re certainly seeing that in the security line for domestic travel.”

As per the COVID restrictions and guidelines at airports, Pasher says the random testing is causing most of the backup.

“When people are coming through, we have the ArriveCAN app which is a great application, but we do need to streamline some of the questions and make it not take as long. For example, when you’re going through CBSA, now as a traveller, if it’s normal times, it would take you 30 seconds now it’s taking you a minute to two minutes to get through and for them to look at all of these health questions that you need to answer as part of that as part of that process to get into the country. When we’re in our bigger airports, it’s just taking so much longer.”

Pasher says with the boom in travel, airports especially Toronto’s Pearson Airport are swamped with the amount of people they process each day.

The council is not calling for the removal of the vaccine requirement for air travel, but Pasher says it is perhaps a discussion worth having.

She points out restrictions have been lifted or eased in most other sectors, questioning why the same cannot be done for airports.

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