Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Review

As part of the Government of Canada's continuing efforts to protect and enhance the safety and security of Canadians through the most efficient and effective means possible, the Government will undertake a review of the spending, efficiency and structure of CATSA. The review will include both public and stakeholder participation to ensure that CATSA is fulfilling its mandate in an efficient and effective manner. Members of the public and key stakeholders will be given an opportunity to share their thoughts on these important issues and contribute to the Government's ongoing agenda to enhance aviation security.


The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) was created by the Budget Implementation Act, 2001 (known as the CATSA Act), as part of the Government of Canada's response to the events of September 11, 2001. The CATSA Act received Royal Assent on March 27, 2002, and came into force on April 1, 2002. CATSA is responsible for taking actions, either directly or through a screening contractor, for the effective and efficient screening of persons who access aircraft or restricted areas through screening points, the property in their possession or control, and the belongings or baggage that they give to an air carrier for transport. CATSA is also responsible for ensuring consistency in the delivery of screening across Canada and for any other air transport security function provided for in the CATSA Act, as well as air transport security functions that the Minister of Transport may assign to it, subject to any terms and conditions that the Minister may establish. CATSA must carry out its responsibilities under the CATSA Act in the public interest, having due regard to the interests of the travelling public.

The four responsibilities currently assigned to CATSA in accordance with the CATSA Act are as follows:

  • Pre-Board Screening (PBS) of passengers and their belongings;
  • acquisition, deployment, operation, and maintenance of explosives detection systems (EDS) for hold baggage screening (HBS);
  • implementing a non-passenger screening (NPS) program for persons accessing restricted areas of airports;
  • implementation of a Restricted Area Identity Card (RAIC).

CATSA Funding

CATSA is funded through federal parliamentary appropriations and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. As part of the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to the safety and security of Canadians, the Government recently 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. As a result, the Government will provide an additional $1.5 billion over five years to the CATSA to enhance aviation security through Canada's Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC).

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.

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CATSA Review