TRANSPORT CANADA

TRANSPORT CANADA

May 24, 2010 15:14 ET

Government of Canada Further Improves Aviation Security for the Safety of Canadians

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - May 24, 2010) - Ministers Jim Prentice, John Baird, James Moore, Peter MacKay, Christian Paradis and Vic Toews today announced another vital step forward to ensuring Canada's aviation system is one of the safest and most efficient, and meets the highest standards in the world. The new initiative will help to ensure that air cargo shipments are resilient to the threat of terrorism and builds on all the measures put into place since 2006 to enhance the safety and security of air travellers.

The six federal ministers made the announcement at airports in six cities across Canada, led by Canada's Transport Minister John Baird at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Environment Minister Jim Prentice also made the announcement in Calgary, along with Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore in Vancouver, Defence Minister Peter MacKay in Halifax, Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis in Montreal and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in Winnipeg.

"Our government is unwavering in our determination to keep all Canadians safe and secure. That is why, since 2006, we have been taking important and necessary steps to meet this goal," said Minister Prentice. "We must remember that terrorism is not just something that happens somewhere else to someone else. Canada must prepare and remain vigilant. Today's announcement to enhance air cargo screening is yet another step towards ensuring the safety and security of air travellers."

"The fact is, our government does not tolerate terrorist and security breaches, and we will be a partner in defending freedom and democracy in the world," said Minister Baird. "Our government is determined to keep Canadians and those who use our airways safe and secure."

Our government has worked to prevent global terrorism, strengthen aviation security and protect the safety of air travellers through actions and measures including:

  • the new Passenger Protect Program to keep people who may pose an immediate security threat from boarding commercial flights;
  • establishing an information-sharing agreement with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to conduct more extensive criminal background checks of workers with access to secure areas at Canada's airports;
  • legislation to help starve terrorists of financing; and
  • openly condemning groups with links to terrorism, and working with the United Nations and our allies to resist and prevent terrorism.

Additionally, in the weeks following the attempted terrorist attack on December 25, 2009, on a flight bound for Detroit, the Government of Canada took further steps to strengthen aviation security by announcing:

  • strengthened explosives trace detection, full-body scanners and the intention to develop a passenger behaviour observation program;
  • Canada's involvement in multi-national discussions on global aviation security;
  • funding of $1.5 billion over five years to help the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) strengthen the security of our aviation system and protect air travellers; and
  • a full review of the spending, efficiency and structure of CATSA.

Today's announcement, the Air Cargo Security Program, is a $95.7-million investment to be phased in over five years and builds on the air cargo plan unveiled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June 2006.

The program will ensure that those companies screening cargo have received thorough security checks and that all cargo screening is completed and verified at the highest standards using the most effective technologies. Finally, that screening is fully compatible with other trading partners, including the United States.

These measures will further protect Canadians while helping exporters move cargo in a secure, timely and efficient way, and will help solidify Canada's reputation as a strong partner in combating global terrorism.

Attached are backgrounders with further information about the Air Cargo Security Program and Canada's history of aviation security.

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Background Information

Air Cargo Security

In recent years, terrorist attacks around the world have led to robust changes to the world's aviation systems, to better protect the safety and security of air travellers and thwart new, emerging threats of global terrorism.

The Government of Canada has been a part of this effort, and has introduced sweeping changes to Canada's aviation system to ensure it is one of the safest and most efficient, and meets the highest standards in the world.

One part of Canada's efforts has been to improve air cargo screening and security. In June 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced funding to strengthen air cargo security, which has since enabled significant work with industry to develop the best Air Cargo Security Program for Canada possible. 

Air Cargo Security Program

The Government of Canada is now introducing a robust five-year plan to ensure that air cargo shipments are resilient from the threat of terrorism and assist exporters to move cargo in a secure, timely and efficient way. The new Air Cargo Security Program is a $95.7 million investment over five years, to be phased in and fully implemented by 2015.

The Program will involve a new regulatory plan that will reach four important goals:

  • There will be an obligation for all cargo shippers, freight forwarders and air carriers in the supply chain process to ensure that cargo screening is completed and verified;
  • Shippers, freight forwarders and air carriers will use newer and more effective technologies and processes to screen cargo;
  • All companies involved in screening cargo will require thorough security checks; and
  • Canada's air cargo screening will be fully compatible with other trading partners; having a security regime that aligns with our major partners will sustain and improve trade between our nations.

The new funding will:

  • Allow for the use of screening technology;
  • Ensure the Government has oversight capacity with the new inspectors;
  • Enhance training programs; and
  • Support shippers, agents/freight forwarders and air carriers in complying with the new Program in this five-year timeframe. 

It will also go toward creating the most effective secure supply chain possible.

The Diverse and Complex System of Air Cargo Shipments

Unlike the screening of passengers and baggage, which can only be undertaken at the airport immediately prior to departure, it is neither practical nor desirable for all air cargo screening to be undertaken by air carriers at the last minute at the airport. Backlogs would result, and clog up the fast-flow of massive amounts of air cargo shipments.

A "supply chain" involves cargo being handled at multiple stages, from the point at which it is packaged, until it is boarded on a plane. This includes shippers, agents/freight forwarders and air carriers. There is also a large variation in the physical size and configuration of cargo, the nature of wrapping and crating varies, and material contents vary widely.

More Rigorous Screening Now in Place

The new Air Cargo Security Program will build on the new and more rigorous screening requirements that were already initiated in 2009/2010. 

Under the new Program, the Government will increase the scope of mandatory screening, for example, by making the higher-risk classes and the sources of air cargo a priority.

Air carriers will continue to have ultimate responsibility to ensure that air cargo they take on board is secure, and will have the right to re-screen or refuse cargo whose security is suspect. 

Technologies and Processes for Air Cargo Screening

This new Program will define which technologies and processes are acceptable for screening of different risk classes of cargo along the supply chain (e.g., factors will be considered, such as: the origin and destination of the cargo; type of aircraft used – whether passenger or all-cargo; the contents, size/configuration and wrapping/packaging and sealing of the cargo). 

Through an analysis of these factors, shippers will know which screening and process is acceptable: either physical inspection, canine check, explosives trace detection or X-ray scanning.

Benefits of the Air Cargo Security Program

Implementation of this initiative will contribute to enhanced aviation security by:

  • Strengthening the regulations, standard and technologies for air cargo screening;
  • Increasing the participation of shippers, agents/freight forwarders and air carriers in a secure supply chain that mitigates the risks of terrorist or unlawful interventions;
  • Reinforcing industry awareness and commitment to air cargo security;
  • Increasing the confidence of Canadians and international partners in Canada's air cargo security regime; and
  • Contributing to the achievement of the Government's commitment as a strong partner in global efforts against terrorism.

Evolution of Aviation Security in Canada

With the events of 9/11, the Government of Canada re-evaluated its aviation security program and took unprecedented steps that included securing and restarting the entire Canadian aviation system, locked cockpit doors, war risk insurance, and enhanced airport security and screening. Other measures introduced following this incident include:

  • Creating the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to act as the sole screening authority in Canada; 
  • Providing In-Flight Security Officers onboard selected flights;
  • Expanding screening of non-passengers who enter restricted areas at airports; 
  • Introducing the Restricted Area Identity Card program for non-passengers in airports;
  • Passing of the Public Safety Act in May 2004 which included such measures as the issuance of interim orders in the case of emergency situations and allowing the collection of passenger information; and
  • Ensuring all checked baggage on trans-border, international and domestic flights are screened for explosives. 

Additionally, since 2006, the Government of Canada has introduced further measures to fight terrorism and strengthen Canada's aviation system to ensure it is one of the most secure worldwide. New measures include:

  • A new Passenger Protect Program to keep people who may pose an immediate security threat from boarding commercial flights;
  • Establishing an information-sharing agreement with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to conduct more extensive criminal background checks of workers with access to secure areas at Canada's airports;
  • Legislation to help starve terrorists of financing; and
  • Openly condemning groups with links to terrorism, and working with the United Nations and our allies to resist and prevent terrorism.

Furthermore, in the weeks following the attempted terrorist attack on December 25, 2009 on a flight bound for Detroit, the Government of Canada took additional steps to strengthen aviation security by announcing:

  • New explosive trace detection, full body scanners and the intention to develop a passenger behaviour observation program;
  • Canada's involvement in multi-national discussions on global aviation security;
  • Funding of $1.5 billion over five years to help the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority strengthen the security of our aviation system and protect air travellers; and
  • A full review into the spending, efficiency and structure of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons with visual disabilities.

Contact Information

  • Alyson Robb
    Office of the Minister of the Environment - MRO
    403-808-7550
    or
    Media Relations
    Transport Canada, Ottawa
    613-993-0055