Ottawa – Travelers will be troubled to learn that only minor changes to airport security screening will be made by the Canadian Airport Security Authority, say Canada’s flight attendants.
Legislation to establish the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and put in place an air traveler security charge was tabled in Parliament yesterday afternoon.
“At $24.00 for a round trip, Canadian travelers have every reason to expect the new air security measures in Canada should be the best available, but this legislation does little more than tinker with the current system”, said Rob Limongelli, Secretary-Treasurer of the flight attendants’ union, the Airline Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The draft legislation sets out “cost and service advantages” as the prime considerations the new Security Authority will weigh in deciding whether to hand off responsibility for security screening to airport authorities, who in turn can contract this essential service to a private contractor.
“Airlines, airport authorities and private contractors will continue to have a big hand in running airport security and their concerns about saving money – not ensuring safe and secure flying – will continue to drive the system. We fear these changes will do little to restore the confidence of air travelers”, Limongelli said.
The draft legislation invites airlines and airport authorities to nominate four members to an eleven-member board of directors that will run the new Authority. But close political ties between these corporate players – regular financial contributors to the federal Liberals – and the government raise questions about how the new Authority will be run.
“The global system safeguarding the traveling public is only as secure as its weakest link,” said Limongelli. “With few changes to passenger screening, Canada could be the entry point for those with malicious intent.”
By way of comparison, the new U.S. security authority will use government employees to deliver essential screening services. This option is overwhelmingly supported by the Canadian public. A recent poll conducted by Environics Research for the Public Service Alliance of Canada found that 7 in 10 Canadians prefer screening services to be delivered by federal employees. Only 2 in 10 thought passenger screening should be delivered by private contractors.
Rob Limongelli (604) 720-2030
Jim Thompson (613) 567-9592