2019 Annual Public Meeting: Speaking Notes

February 27, 2020 - Video Presentation

Welcoming Remarks and Speakers Presentation

Hello, bonjour, and thank you for joining us for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s Annual Public Meeting.

My name is Maryam Mashaie, and it’s my pleasure to be here today to introduce our two speakers – Board Chair Marguerite Nadeau and President and CEO Michael Saunders. They will discuss CATSA’s accomplishments over the past year, and the challenges and opportunities we look forward to in an exciting year to come.

We begin with Ms. Nadeau, who has chaired CATSA’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Ms. Nadeau was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1990. She has extensive experience as a Senior Executive in the areas of law, governance, strategic planning, human resources, and security. She was Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at the Royal Canadian Mint and was a trustee on the Board of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa Health Services. She is a member of the Board of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre as well as the Board of Directors of the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, a contemporary art gallery in Aylmer.

Ms. Nadeau.

Thank you, Ms. Nadeau.

Our next speaker is Mike Saunders. Mr. Saunders joined CATSA as Vice-president and Chief Technology Officer in July 2008 following a 28-year career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where he attained the rank of Assistant Commissioner and held such senior positions as Chief Information Officer and Director General of the Canadian Police College. He holds a BA in Professional Studies, Business Administration and Human Resources Management from Barry University, Miami, Florida.

Mister Saunders.

Thank you, Mr. Saunders.

With that, we conclude our Annual Public Meeting. It has been our pleasure to take this time to discuss the year that was, and to offer a preview of the year to come.

Note that you can pose follow-up questions and request clarification through our website at catsa.gc.ca. You have until March 5 to do so. The responses will be posted on the website shortly after. 

Thank you again for joining us today, and we hope to see you again next year.

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Speaking Notes for Marguerite Nadeau, Chairperson of the Board of Directors

Thank you very much Maryam, and thank you all for joining us today.

As Chair of CATSA’s Board, I’m pleased to be able to report to you on our activities in 2019, which was a momentous year for CATSA.

In February 2019, as part of the federal budget, the Government of Canada announced that CATSA’s assets and liabilities would be sold to a private, not-for-profit entity, and subsequently passed legislation to make this happen. This is, of course, a huge change for CATSA, but one we were prepared for, having aided the government in its review of CATSA’s governance. Transition is the result of that review.

Following a successful transaction, the new not-for-profit entity will have more funding stability and the ability to link funding to demand. It will be able to plan for the longer term.

The transition process started with the budget announcement and is still underway. Currently, Transport Canada is actively engaged with an interim corporate entity, referred to as the Designated Screening Authority, or DSA, regarding the sale of CATSA’s assets. The DSA is made up of appointees from across the aviation industry. We do not know when the transaction will be completed, though both sides are currently planning to complete negotiations on the purchase agreement as early as possible this year.

The Prime Minister’s mandate letter to the Minister of Transport directs him to complete this transaction, and states specifically that the resulting independent entity should focus on improving the passenger experience.

In the past year, CATSA’s Board of Directors has worked hard to support transition planning activities. We created a Transaction Committee to evaluate information related to this process and to advise the Board as a whole as we move forward. It is important to note that because some of CATSA’s Board members are nominated by industry, it was critical to ensure that the Committee was populated only by those members with no vested interest in the results of the transaction, besides their interest in aviation security.

Once the sale of CATSA’s assets to the new Designated Screening Authority is complete, CATSA, as a Crown corporation, will continue to exist for several months as we complete the winding up process and meet its remaining corporate obligations.

The Board’s main interest in the meantime is to ensure that CATSA continues to deliver on its mandate to provide effective, efficient security screening.

In the past year, we have done great things that will position us for even more success in the future.

The Board oversaw the completion of the first CATSA Plus checkpoints in Edmonton and Halifax, the two newest airports to feature this high-performance system.

Our airport partners continue to be impressed by CATSA Plus. Tom Ruth, President and CEO of the Edmonton International Airport, came to Ottawa to meet the Board, to express his enthusiasm for the system and to thank CATSA for its help with his airport’s recent Security Hall upgrade.

Two of our quarterly Board meetings last year were held outside the nation’s capital, one in Toronto and one in Quebec City – where we had the opportunity to tour its beautiful, newly renovated terminal. Meeting in other cities allows the Board to become familiar with the corporation’s operations in airports of various sizes and complexities, to more easily meet with employees and to hear directly from a range of airport stakeholders.

The Board saw two membership changes in 2019.

We welcomed Penny J. Westman as a member. She comes to us with a long list of accomplishments in the law and insurance fields and is already making a great contribution to the Board’s activities as Chairperson of our newly formed Transaction Committee.

In addition, we said goodbye to Raf Souccar. Raf had been with us since 2015, and served on multiple Board committees. We benefited greatly from his expertise, and I thank him for his contributions and dedication to CATSA.

I extend those thanks to everyone on the Board for their contributions in the past year. As I said, it was a unique year in CATSA’s history, and the guidance they have provided assures that CATSA is prepared to make the most of the opportunities now ahead.

On behalf of the Board, I also wish to thank CATSA’s management and staff, who have taken on additional work related to transition while seamlessly maintaining operations.

The Board and I remain committed to overseeing CATSA’s good work in the months ahead, and look forward to celebrating yet more success.


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Speaking Notes for Michael Saunders, President and CEO

Thank you Maryam, and thank you Madame Nadeau.

It is my pleasure to address you today as I embark upon my fourth year as President and CEO of CATSA, to talk to you about our recent achievements, our key priorities and our plans for the year ahead.

The biggest news of the past year was − without a doubt − the announcement of the intention to have CATSA’s assets sold to a private, not-for-profit entity, which would then take over responsibility for security screening. We embarked upon this exciting project this year while also maintaining stable, ongoing operations at the airports. Security is our top priority and maintaining stable operations is essential to meeting that responsibility.

CATSA has a supporting role in the transaction, answering questions and providing information. Transitioning to a private, not-for-profit entity is a huge undertaking involving work by all of our branches. As a starting point, we supplied well in excess of 1,000 documents to the negotiation teams for review.

We are committed to a planning and operational approach that embraces all of the ways that we can facilitate a seamless transition. This includes supporting:

  • the sale of CATSA assets to the new Designated Screening Authority;
  • preparations for Day 1 operations as the new Authority; and
  • the winding up of CATSA.

In my view, we are also in the process of laying the foundation for a more sustainable, national air transport screening service that will meet the expectations of the travelling public and the aviation industry as a whole.

While there are still a great many details yet to be determined, we have been busy planning and preparing for a variety of scenarios so that we can hit the ground running, so to speak, once decisions are made.

The goal for us, and for the negotiating parties, is a seamless transition to the new not-for-profit entity.

Meanwhile, we continue to deliver effective security screening while providing the best possible passenger experience.

One of the most visible measures of our success is our wait-time service levels, and I’m pleased to say that we exceeded our target in the most recent fiscal year, 2018/2019. We aim for a target of 85/15 – where, on average, 85 percent of all passengers wait 15 minutes or less to be screened at Canada’s eight largest airports during the fiscal year. In 2018/19, we delivered a level of 92.2 percent.

This is even more exciting for having occurred during yet another year of passenger growth. In 2018/19 we screened a record-setting 67.9 million passengers – that’s 1.7 million more than the previous year. And we’re on track to break that record again this year.

To meet that challenge, we are always innovating. This year we completed CATSA Plus checkpoints in Halifax and Edmonton, and deployed more CATSA Plus lines to Toronto-Pearson, the busiest airport in Canada.

We also continued with our 10-year hold-baggage screening recapitalization project, which is on track to be completed in 2021. As part of this undertaking, CATSA has been upgrading its hold-baggage screening systems with state of the art technologies to eliminate the need for duplicate screening and to facilitate travel for passengers departing from Canada and transiting through U.S. airports. This has been a huge effort, and it will yield benefits to our operations well into the future.

Our quarterly passenger surveys continue to show that passengers are also pleased with the work we’re doing. One number we’re particularly happy about: passenger confidence in the value and effectiveness of security screening reached an all-time high of 85% last quarter. With this recent increase, confidence has now surpassed our corporate target by 10%. This speaks to the core of our work, and the value we provide to the aviation sector. We exist to protect the public by securing critical elements of the air transportation system, and this result is a huge expression of support from our main stakeholder – the travelling public.

This year also saw the launch of our public-facing Real People series – a multimedia campaign featuring profiles of some of our screening officers from across the country. The videos, posters and social-media posts in this campaign share an important message: our screening officers are dedicated, talented professionals with unique interests and stories.

For example, we have Jenna in Montreal who – in addition to being a screening officer – is also a DJ and music producer. In Winnipeg, Parrish is a proud former member of the military and a volunteer Santa Claus in his spare time. This campaign has been a great way to show our pride in the screening officer workforce – the people who carry out our security screening each and every day.

As we embark on a new year – a year that will bring big change to the organization, and big opportunities – I wish to thank all of CATSA’s employees for their efforts in the year now past. Your dedication to ensuring a successful transition, and to continuing to provide excellent screening services, has ensured that the year to come will be another great one.

I also wish to thank Madame Nadeau and our Board of Directors. It has been a pleasure to work together and to share in CATSA’s success.

Lastly, on behalf of CATSA’s senior management team, I thank you all very much for joining us today.

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