“Minister Alghabra I think will have announcements on that,” he said. “We are very seized by this idea of increasing the number of agents we have at Canadian airports.”

Speaking in a one-on-one after the press event, Boissonnault was asked specifically what he’s doing to help the issues of both airport congestion and labour shortages in the tourism and hospitality industries.

“On the airports, it’s CBSA (the Canadian Border Services Agency, which handles the border) and CATSA (the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which takes care of airport security). It’s, what are the staffing levels? How fast can you get people trained up?

“We’re literally sending in task forces to figure out where are those bottlenecks, so we can remove them. I talked to Omar yesterday and we’re working on this. I will look at, if we need to pull a tiger team together inside government, that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

Pearson Airport in Toronto and other Canadian airports have been hit by major congestion issues and slowdowns the past weeks as Canadians travel in greater numbers. Police had to be called out to Toronto Pearson on the weekend due to slowdowns and baggage handling problems.

Asked about an announcement from Alghabra, Boissonnault replied, “I think you’ll hear something from the minister soon.”

Cities and resort regions across Canada also are being hurt by labour shortages. Hotels say they can’t offer 100% occupancy because there’s not enough staff on hand to deliver the service customers require.

Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance and Liza Frulla, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Destination Canada, with members of the team at Rendez-Vous Canada 2022, taking place this week at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Boissonnault said Ottawa is looking at a number of solutions and issues, including how to have a short-term, temporary foreign worker program and how to allow more work to be done by international students in Canada.

“Right now, they (students) are capped at 20 hours (per week). That should be 40. There are some little, what I would call regulatory hurdles.”

Boissonnault also said he’d like to give hospitality and tourism workers who come to Canada a clear path to citizenship.

“If you want to come here and work at the Metro (Toronto) Convention Centre or the hotel sector and you’re prepared to do that and you have a job for 12 months, that should be a path to citizenship. So we’re working on that as well.”

The government has done in the past with caregivers, the minister said.

Speaking during the press event, Boissonnault said it’s a challenge to deal with the new reality, including so-called “revenge travel.”

“We’re coming out of two years of people in their basements and their backyards, and Canadian staycations. And now people are saying ‘We want to travel’.

“People are going on the road  and they’re going to spend more than they’ve ever spent before because they don’t know if next year they’re going to have to stay in their basements again. So, we’re working on this every day.”

Boissonnault also said the government wants to look at how to get more international visitors to smaller cities around the country, versus having so many fly into Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.



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