October 24th, 2012

Weakened airport security, longer lineups after Conservative cuts

Axing vital security screeners risky and irresponsible

The Conservatives are taking a gamble on airport security with the latest round of screening staff layoffs. By cutting $112 million in funding in the budget over 3 years, Harper is putting air travellers at risk and Canadian jobs on the line.

“Toronto Pearson alone is losing 15% of its full-time screening staff – despite rising numbers of travellers; it’s simply irresponsible,” NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow charges. “With less personnel and more pressure, the quality of screenings will drop.”

The massive cuts to CATSA, the government agency in charge of airport security, are being rolled over to its subcontractors that are now shedding staff and are cutting back hours. Two hundred full-time screeners are losing their jobs at Toronto’s international airport, with 200 having hours reduced. Vancouver, Canada’s second busiest airport, is axing 60 screening staff.

“And that’s despite the fact that the Conservatives are raking in a profit from the security charges Canadians pay on every flight ticket,” the MP for Trinity-Spadina explains. “Canadians expect top-notch services, not shoddy inspections and long wait times for their money.”

Overcharging passengers for security while increasing wait times is putting yet more pressure on Canada’s airports. Already, more than 5 million travellers cross the border every year to hop on planes in the US and evade costly Canadian airports, a situation that the Harper government is making worse.

“It’s clear that the Conservatives are neither interested in airport security nor traveller convenience. Instead, they go for a quick buck and make air travel unbearable for Canadians,” MP Olivia Chow concludes.