2021 Annual Public Meeting: Speaking Notes

April 25, 2022: Speaking Notes


Welcome Remarks and Speakers Presentation

Hello, Bonjour, and welcome to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s Annual Public Meeting. 

My name is Sandra Alvarez and I am the facilitator for today’s meeting.   

Speaking on behalf of CATSA today are Ms. Marguerite Nadeau, CATSA’s Chairperson and Mr. Mike Saunders, CATSA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Together, they will present CATSA’s accomplishments over the last fiscal year and highlight organizational opportunities for   the year ahead.

We will begin today’s meeting   with Ms. Marguerite Nadeau, who has served as Chairof CATSA’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Ms. Nadeau was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1990 and 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 Board trustee for the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa Health Services. Ms Nadeau is currently a Board member for the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre as well as the   Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, a contemporary art gallery in Aylmer.

Madame 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. During his tenure with the RCMP,  he attained the rank of Assistant Commissioner and held senior positions including 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 inMiami, Florida.

Mister Saunders.

Thank you, Mr, Saunders.

This concludes 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 send follow-up questions and request clarification through our website at catsa.gc.ca. You have until May 2nd to do so. The responses will be posted on the website shortly thereafter. 

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, Sandra and thank you all for joining us today. As Chair of CATSA’s Board, it is an honour to be here and to share with you a report on our activities over the last year.  As you know, it was another period of uncertainty for the world as we entered the second year of the global pandemic in 2021. I am pleased to report that CATSA, with the Board’s support, continued to respond with decisiveness and resolve in fulfilling its mandate to secure critical elements of the air transportation system.

That support was provided by the 11 directors of CATSA’s Board, all of whom are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport. Two of these directors are nominated by airlines and two by airports. This ensures that we have valuable expertise from two of CATSA’s key stakeholder groups, which serves to enrich our oversight activities.

In addition to industry representation, our current Board members collectively bring a vast range of knowledge and experience from a variety of fields including law, governance, finance, business, high tech, aerospace and human resources.

This past year, we saw the departure of one of our Board members, Taleeb Noormohamed, who was elected to the House of Commons in the last federal election. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his valuable contributions and to congratulate him on his new role as Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville.

In the coming year, we await new appointments to the Board to replace outgoing members whose terms have come to an end.

Working together over the last year, the Board continued to provide oversight of CATSA’s ongoing work. This included quarterly meetings and Committee work, all of which were conducted virtually.

As in 2020, new activities to protect the safety of travellers and those working in airports were undertaken to support the air travel industry. This included vaccination verification, and – much like temperature screening the previous year – this work was taken on quickly and carried out efficiently. Our continued support of the industry’s recovery efforts was a main focus this past year and will continue to be critical in the year ahead. 

Planning for the future is always important and this past year much time and effort was spent on developing a forward-facing corporate strategy and five-year corporate plan. All Board members participated in a strategic planning retreat, along with CATSA’s Senior Management Committee, industry stakeholders and Transport Canada, to discuss industry recovery and the way forward up to fiscal year 2026/27. During the retreat, an overall framework and corporate priorities were reviewed and key metrics to track progress were considered. It was a very productive session for all involved.

Another focus for CATSA and for the Board over the past year was employee health and well-being, which we all agree is an ongoing priority that includes diversity, equity and inclusion. 

On a related note, we were pleased to follow the development of CATSA’s plans to move to a hybrid work model, knowing that this will offer flexibility to employees as they begin their planned return to the workplace in the coming months. A key component of this plan includes the extension of CATSA’s lease for its office space in downtown Ottawa, which serves as its headquarters. The Board approved this extension along with the release of one of its three floors. The goal is to develop a workspace that provides more opportunity for personal interaction and collaboration for all CATSA employees who live and work in the National Capital Region, and those who visit this space from regional locations.

While the year was filled with much change and plans for the future, work on CATSA’s Transition from a Crown corporation to an independent not-for-profit corporation remained on hold. The Board does not anticipate any changes to that at this time, but remains ready to lend its support to the negotiating parties in future should this be required.

As I reflect on the last year, I once again marvel at the decisiveness and resolve shown by all as CATSA continues to work effectively to secure critical elements of the air transportation system in difficult circumstances. I am grateful to CATSA’s current Board members for their dedication and for their important contributions over the past year that will ensure the organization is well positioned for continued success. On behalf of all Board members, I extend our thanks to CATSA’s Senior Management Committee and staff, and to CATSA’s screening contractors and screening officers for their ongoing commitment and efforts in these unprecedented times. I would also like to acknowledge CATSA’s partners in the air travel industry and underline the importance of our continued collaboration and mutual support as we work together to ensure our collective future success. Thank you for joining me today to share in the many accomplishments that were realized in 2021. Along with my fellow Board members, I look forward to guiding CATSA in the coming year with the utmost confidence that it can effectively deliver on its mandate while making an important contribution to the recovery of Canada’s air travel industry.

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Speaking Notes for Michael Saunders, President and CEO

Thank you Sandra, and thank you Madame Nadeau. 

It is a pleasure to be here today and share with you CATSA’s activities over the past year, along with our key priorities and plans for the year ahead. 

As the global pandemic endured in 2021, the world continued to face challenges in many areas. With ongoing travel restrictions and the emergence of variants of the COVID-19 virus, our continued focus at CATSA – alongside security – was the health and safety of all those working in and travelling through Canada’s designated airports.

In addition to monitoring and aligning with federal and provincial health and safety guidance, we undertook biosecurity measures that involved rigorous testing of various sanitization equipment options.

This included a promising trial using short-wavelength ultraviolet light to disinfect bins on our high-volume CATSA Plus lines. We are awaiting Health Canada approval to bring this technology to our full complement of these screening lines as soon as possible.

At the request of Transport Canada, we also continued to conduct temperature screening of all passengers and airport workers entering the restricted areas of Canada’s 15 busiest airports through to last August when the program ended.

A few months later, we quickly took on additional duties once again when we were asked to assist with the federal government’s mandatory vaccine requirements for travellers and airport workers. Screening officers began verifying proof of vaccination in October for all those entering security checkpoints as the program was phased-in across the country.

That’s just one of the ways we have continued to support our stakeholders and partners in the air travel industry.

Starting last summer, we began to ramp-up recovery efforts to ensure we were well positioned for a steady increase in passenger volumes as leisure and business travel slowly returned.

This included working with our screening contractors to start calling back personnel, initiating recruitment efforts, and providing training and certification to new and returning employees.

I am pleased to report that as passenger volumes increased – especially in the latter part of the year, we were able to meet and exceed our wait time service levels.

The past year was also a time to ensure our efforts to increase support for our employees’ mental health and wellbeing continued.

Through the development of an internal wellness portal, we shared a wide range of information, resources and tools to assist our employees and their families during these unprecedented times.

While the pandemic moved mental health and wellbeing into the spotlight, it has been a necessary shift for all organizations and one that CATSA is proud to adopt permanently.

Employee wellbeing is also stronger in organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion. This past year we enjoyed employee-led activities and information-sharing that enriched our understanding and appreciation for creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

We also spent much time and effort developing a hybrid work model that recognizes flexibility as key to our individual and collective success. It includes the benefits of working from remote, when possible, alongside opportunities for in-person collaboration and relationship building.

I feel confident that our efforts in the last year have set up us well for continued success as we embark on a new year – one that will bring positive change in how we work and support each other, and strengthen our relationships with partners and stakeholders as we continue to support the recovery of the air travel industry.

We are ever mindful of the future, and our work to trial new, innovative equipment – like CT-Xrays – and to deploy UV systems for advanced biosafety, continues.

We will also be focused on the upcoming renewal of our Airport Screening Services Agreements – a substantial contractual undertaking that will draw on a vast range of expertise and insight from across our organization.

As important as it is to plan and prepare for tomorrow, it is also important to reflect on the past; 2021 was another year of challenge and resilience, and it was also a time of growth. I am proud of the efforts of so many who worked to ensure the health, safety and security of the travelling public.

To our screening contractors and screening officers, I extend my thanks for your dedication and adaptability in a time of uncertainty.

To the Board of Directors, I thank you for offering your knowledge, skills and experience as you worked closely with us through another challenging year.

To our partners and stakeholders, I am grateful for your trust and support.

And to CATSA’s staff – thank you for your unwavering commitment, hard work and agility. It has been an honour to lead you this past year and I look forward to another successful year ahead.

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