·  Media release

Harper Government Diverts Airport Security Fees to Cut Federal Deficit

TORONTO - The International Association of Machinists (IAM) and the United Steelworkers (USW) say the Harper government is costing Canadian travellers time and money to reduce the federal deficit.

According to government figures, Air Traveller Security Charges (ATSCs) - the fees everyone who boards an aircraft in Canada pays to cover the costs of security screening - will generate over the next five years $621 million more than it cost for airport security screening and the government is using this money to cut the federal deficit. 

"They say time is money and the travelling public in Canada is getting screwed by their government," explained IAM Canadian General Vice-President Dave Ritchie. "By reducing the numbers of screening personnel while revenues continue to rise, the Conservatives are lengthening airport security lines, creating an inconvenience and extra costs for Canadian air travellers."

"Service levels will decline over each of the next five years and passengers will likely wait longer to be screened," said USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann. "These comments come straight from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the government agency which oversees air transport security." 

The IAM and USW represent close to 90 per cent of all airport security screeners at two-thirds of the airports in Canada.

The ATSCs were originally levied to fund airport security operations in light of the 9/11 disasters which impacted air travel security. Since 2010, the government has reduced the number of screeners by close to 2000.

"Using this extra revenue could reverse those cuts resulting in improved safety, reduced lineups at critical times and less passenger stress," said Neumann.

"What this government is doing is wrong," said Ritchie. "They're skimming funds paid by the travelling public meant to secure air travel and diverting them to other areas of the budget in order to balance the books." 

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For further information:

Dave Ritchie, IAM Canada General Vice-President, 416-386-1789, Ext 6323
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bill Trbovich, IAM Director of Communications, 416-386-1789, Ext 6331; 416-735-9765
Bob Gallagher, USW Director of Communications, 416-534-222

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