TRANSPORT CANADA

TRANSPORT CANADA

February 25, 2010 17:59 ET

Government of Canada Enhances Air Traveller Security

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 25, 2010) - Canada's Transport Minister John Baird today announced new dedicated funds that will help to strengthen Canada's air transportation system against terrorist attacks, enhance the protection of air travellers and better align the aviation system with international security requirements.

The Government of Canada will provide $1.5 billion over five years to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to enhance Canadian aviation security, through Canada's Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC).

"The terrorist attack that took place just two months ago today was a stark reminder for governments to remain vigilant about aviation security," said Baird. "Our government is unwavering in our determination to keep all Canadians safe and secure from terrorism, and we are taking the necessary measures to meet this goal."

Following the December 25, 2009, terrorist attack on a flight headed to Detroit, the Government of Canada took additional steps to strengthen aviation security, such as introducing new full body scanners, proceeding with the intention to develop a passenger behaviour observation program, and strengthening explosive trace detection. The Government of Canada also introduced measures to meet new U.S. rules for U.S.-bound flights from Canada and joined multinational discussions on global aviation security.

To ensure that CATSA is fulfilling its mandate effectively, the Government of Canada also announced today that it will launch a full review of the spending, efficiency and structure of this Crown corporation. Details of the review will be forthcoming. CATSA is responsible for the pre-board screening of passengers and their belongings; baggage screening through airport explosives detection systems; and screening and tracking of non-passengers entering airport restricted areas. 

"Canadians expect the government to manage aviation security in an efficient and effective manner," said Rob Merrifield, Minister of State for Transport. "While CATSA will be receiving additional funding, it will also undergo a thorough expert review to ensure that the Government of Canada realizes those objectives."

The review will include significant stakeholder participation and will examine the effectiveness of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested annually in CATSA, in order to determine whether alternative models would better serve the needs of industry and the travelling public.

In recent years, air security technology and personnel at airports have evolved substantially. For example:

  • all baggage is now screened with modern CT scanning equipment, compared to select baggage scans in 2003 using basic X-ray equipment;
  • there are over 80 per cent more screening officers at airports today than in 2003; and
  • the number of screening lines at airports was increased by approximately 20 per cent from 2003 to 2010.

In the coming fiscal year, with the approval of Parliament, the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) will increase to match the demand of security costs. Industry and passengers can expect these user fee rates to increase, starting at $2.58 for one-way domestic flights, $4.37 for transborder flights and $8.91 for other international flights. CATSA will use these funds to implement existing and new security measures. The Government of Canada will submit an annual report to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on the ATSC.

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Backgrounder

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA ENHANCES AIR TRAVELLER SECURITY

The Government of Canada is committed to the safety of Canadians and will implement measures that enhance the security of Canada's aviation system. This new commitment of $1.5 billion over five years for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will help to strengthen the security of Canada's air transportation system, enhance protection for air travellers and better align with international security requirements. With the approval of Parliament, the funds will be provided through the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC). 

CATSA Review

In March 2010, the Government of Canada will launch a full review of the spending, efficiency and structure of CATSA. The review will include significant stakeholder participation and will examine the effectiveness of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested annually in CATSA, in order to determine whether alternative models would better serve the needs of industry and the travelling public. Further details of the review will be forthcoming.

CATSA is a Crown corporation mandated to protect the public through effective and efficient screening of air travellers and their baggage. Its goal is to provide a professional, effective and consistent level of security service across the country, at or above the standards set by Transport Canada. Operating at arm's length under the regulatory body of Transport Canada, CATSA reports to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

CATSA's responsibilities fall into four major air security areas:

  • pre-board screening of passengers and their belongings;
  • hold baggage screening through the acquisition, deployment, operation and maintenance of explosives detection systems at airports;
  • non-passenger screening of those entering airport restricted areas; and
  • Restricted Area Identity Card implementation and management.

For more information, visit CATSA's website at www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca.

Increasing the funding will allow CATSA to replace aging and obsolete technology, and invest in the newest, most effective machines for screening passengers and baggage. These investments include:

  • state-of-the-art certified computed tomography (CT scanners) and X-ray technology for checked luggage;
  • new body scanners as an option for passengers requiring secondary screening;
  • Passenger Trace, which detects explosives on passengers and in carry-on bags at screening points; and
  • detection capability for explosives concealed in shoes, to meet U.S. requirements.

These new technologies complement the upgraded technology and operational enhancements CATSA has made in recent years. For example:

  • In 2003, there were 3,300 screening officers, who screened over 36 million passengers and a very small sampling of luggage; in 2009, more than 6,000 screening officers screened over 48 million passengers and 62 million pieces of luggage.
    Restricted Area Identity Card operational trials began in 2004 and involved four of Canada's major airports. As of April 2009, approximately 336 wall-mounted biometric readers were installed, and each restricted area entry point was equipped with at least one reader and in many cases two (one for fingerprints; one for iris). In addition, 254 portable readers are currently in use at these airports, being used at bypass doors and pre-board screening points.
  • All baggage is now screened with modern X-ray equipment, compared to select baggage scans in 2003 using basic X-ray equipment, and all 89 airports where CATSA operates have an explosives detection system for checked bags.

Air Travellers Security Charge Rates

To sustain and strengthen Canada's air security system and finance these new measures, the Government of Canada is proposing that Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) rates be increased as of April 1, 2010.

For air travel within Canada, it is proposed that the charge be raised from $4.90 to $7.48 for one-way travel, and from $9.80 to $14.96 for round-trip travel. For transborder flights to the continental United States, it is proposed that the charge be raised from $8.34 to $12.71, and for other international air travel from $17.00 to $25.91. Where applicable, the total charge includes the goods and services tax (GST) or the federal portion of the harmonized sales tax (HST).

For transborder and international travel, the ATSC generally applies only to flights departing from Canada. Foreign governments may impose similar security charges on return travel, but those charges are not affected by this announcement.

Proposed ATSC Rates ($)
  Current Initial Rate
in 2002
I April 2010 and Ongoing
Domestic (one-way) 4.90 12.00 7.48
Domestic (round trip) 9.80 24.00 14.96
Transborder 8.34 12.00 12.71
Other international 17.00 24.00 25.91
Note: The above rates include the GST or the federal portion of the HST where applicable.

With this increase, it is expected that ATSC revenues will roughly offset expenses for air travel security through to 2014-15, including new funding announced today, as set out in the table below.

ATSC Revenues and Expenses for Enhanced Air Travel Security ($ millions)
 
Fiscal Year 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2010-15
ATSC revenues 590 624 658 691 722 3,284
Expenses for air travel security 682 654 651 649 648 3,284
Annual balance (92) (30) 7 42 74 0
Cumulative total (92) (122) (115) (74) 0 n.a.
Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

The ATSC applies to flights between the 89 airports in Canada where air travel security services are provided by CATSA. The charge does not apply to flights that arrive at or depart from other airports in Canada. The ATSC also applies to transborder flights to the continental United States and other international flights that depart from Canada's airports. The charge is payable by the purchaser of an air transportation service and is collected by the air carrier at the time of payment for the service.

The ATSC came into effect in April 2002 to fund the air travel security system, including the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) — the federal authority responsible for the security screening of air passengers and their baggage. In addition to CATSA, the air travel security system includes Transport Canada regulations and oversight, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers on selected domestic and international flights.

The ATSC is payable by air travellers, who principally and directly benefit from the Canadian air travel security system. The charge is intended to provide revenues that are roughly equivalent to expenses for air travel security over time. All proceeds from the ATSC, including any applicable GST or the federal portion of the HST, are intended to fund the air travel security system.

The government will continue to review and adjust ATSC rates to ensure that ATSC revenues remain in line with expenses for enhanced air travel security over time.

The proposed new ATSC rates will apply to air transportation services that include a chargeable emplanement on or after April 1, 2001, for which any payment is made on or after that date.

The government will introduce legislation at an early opportunity.

Contact Information

  • James Kusie
    Director of Issues Management and Parliamentary Affairs
    Office of Canada's Transport Minister John Baird
    Ottawa
    613-991-0700