Canadian Air Transport Security Authority 2022 Annual Public Meeting



CATSA Annual Public Meeting 2022-2023

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) held its 2022 Annual Public Meeting by means of an audio-visual presentation and was posted on its website on June 26, 2023.

Thao Pham, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, and Nada Semaan, President and CEO, report on CATSA’s progress during the past year and outline future plans for the organization. Viewers will be able to pose follow-up questions and request clarification via email until July 4, 2023.

Read the speeches

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

I would like to begin by acknowledging that this event is hosted on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin.

My name is Max Paradis and it’s my pleasure to be here today to introduce our two speakers –

Ms. Thao Pham, CATSA’s Chairperson and Ms. Nada Semaan CATSA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Together, they will present CATSA’s accomplishments over the last fiscal year and highlight organizational priorities for the year ahead.

We will begin today’s meeting with Ms. Pham, who joined CATSA in March of this year.

Ms. Pham is a former senior Canadian government official with extensive experience in leadership, management and governance. She last served as Deputy Minister, COVID-19 Recovery and previously as Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) in the Privy Council Office. Prior to that, she served as Associate Deputy Minister of Transport Canada. She also held a number of senior positions, including at Infrastructure Canada, Canada Economic Development Agency for Quebec Regions, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Please welcome, Ms. Thao Pham.

Thank you Maxime and thank you to everyone for joining us today.

It is a great pleasure to take part in my first Annual Public Meeting as the new Chairperson of CATSA’s Board of Directors.

After 20 years of operation to ensure the highest level of security to air travellers, CATSA has much to be proud of.

First, let me say a few words about CATSA’s Board of directors. It is made up of 11 directors, including the chairperson, all of whom are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport. Of the 11 directors, two are nominated by the airline industry and two by the airport industry.

We have had two new members join our Board this past year in addition to myself: Jennifer Sullivan and Rosemary Capparelli. They both bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills to the Board and I wish them a very warm welcome.

We have also seen some departures in the past year. On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Marguerite Nadeau, the previous Chair, and departing Board members Bill Restall and Allan Rowe for their valuable contributions to CATSA during their tenures.

The Board and I also extend our thanks to Mike Saunders, the former President and CEO, for his leadership and strong commitment to CATSA during his time with the organization. We wish him a well-deserved retirement. 

We welcome Nada Semaan as the new President and CEO. Nada’s leadership, extensive experience and knowledge will serve the organization well.  

Reflecting on 2022, it was a year of tremendous challenge for CATSA and for all partners in the air travel industry. The industry saw passengers return to the skies in numbers far beyond any global or domestic aviation industry projections.

In fiscal year 2022/23, CATSA screened nearly 58 million passengers, representing an increase of 135% compared to the previous year.

This surge in passenger volumes, after two years of restrictions due to the global pandemic, alongside tight labour market conditions, resulted in increased wait times for security screening at airports in the lead up to summer 2022.

Through collaboration with our air transportation partners, CATSA staff, screening contractors and screening officers worked intensively to reduce the wait times at security screening checkpoints.

Between April and August 2022, CATSA accelerated the hiring and training of over 1,800 screening personnel. Through these intensive efforts, we were able to reduce wait times for travellers early on in the summer season and normalize them for the remainder of the year.

While providing oversight to CATSA’s operational performance, the Board also focused on contributing to the Government of Canada’s priorities, including promoting and upholding the values of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the organization, and in the service we deliver. We also contributed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

CATSA is an important actor in the civil aviation sector. We are fully committed to working in close collaboration with all our partners, including Transport Canada, airlines and airports, to offer the highest levels of security screening in the most efficient way. As always, we remain dedicated to improving the passenger experience, with a renewed focus on leading with excellence and innovation.

Working alongside my fellow Board members, I look forward to guiding CATSA in the coming years with the utmost confidence that it will effectively deliver on its mandate while contributing to the Government of Canada’s important priorities.

In closing, on behalf of all Board members, I extend our thanks to all CATSA employees, our screening contractors, and over 8,500 front-line screening officers across the country for their ongoing commitment and dedication to provide Canadian and international air travellers with optimal security screening services efficiently.

Thank you. 

Thank you, Ms. Pham

Our next speaker, Ms. Semaan, joined CATSA on April 2, 2023. Prior to her appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Semaan served as Director and Chief Executive Officer of Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Among the many highlights of her extensive career as a senior leader in the federal government, Ms. Semaan was an Associate Deputy Minister at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Executive Vice President of the Canada Border Services Agency, Associate Deputy Minister at Canadian Heritage and Assistant Secretary at the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Please welcome Ms. Nada Semaan

Thank you Maxime and thank you Ms. Pham

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

As was shared by Ms. Pham, in 2022, the air travel industry faced significant challenges as traveller demand peaked to near pre-pandemic levels within a short period of time amid challenging labour market conditions.

This surge affected passenger wait times for security screening at some key airports across the country, requiring CATSA to accelerate its recovery plans.

Critical response measures were quickly initiated, which included working with screening contractors on the expansion of staffing efforts and an increase in training supports.

During this time, CATSA also implemented the use of pre-certified screening officers to perform non-screening tasks at pre-board screening checkpoints, which proved to be a success and is something that we have continued to employ.

CATSA’s employees, alongside the screening contractors and screening officers, showed an extraordinary level of dedication, commitment and collaboration throughout this challenging time, and I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge these efforts and extend my thanks.

It is also important to recognize the leadership of CATSA’s senior management and Board of Directors. Their ongoing commitment to CATSA’s mission throughout 2022 and indeed the past few years has allowed CATSA to successfully fulfill its mandate at all times.

While the focus over this past year was primarily on supporting the recovery of the aviation industry, CATSA also worked to reduce accessibility barriers for air travellers as well as for CATSA employees.

In December 2022, CATSA published its first ever Accessibility Plan outlining critical action items we will address over the next two years. We are proud of the steps we have taken thus far and we will continue that momentum in the current year as we to strive towards a more inclusive and barrier-free security screening experience for all travellers.

CATSA also took meaningful steps towards reconciliation by launching Reconciliation Starts with Me, an Indigenous Cultural Awareness Learning Program for screening contractors, screening officers and CATSA employees.

This two-part program shares critical insights into the history of Indigenous Peoples with the goal of increasing cultural and historical awareness and understanding. These learnings also provided important context to complement procedural changes for the screening of all passengers travelling with sacred and spiritual items to ensure a more inclusive and positive screening experience.

Focusing on our internal operations, 2022 marked CATSA’s successful transition to a flexible work model, which included the release of one of three leased floors at its Ottawa headquarters. Investments were made in several workspace upgrades to improve alignment between the remaining physical space and the work being done at that location.

While physical spaces were changing, CATSA’s focus on its mandate remained steadfast.  Last fall, plans were well underway for summer 2023 operations. This included an ongoing assessment of screening officer requirements based on projected passenger traffic for the coming year.

Then, as now, CATSA's priorities remained on providing the highest level of security screening with emphasis on efficiency and customer service.

We will continue to do so in the coming year with a special focus on service excellence achieved through demonstrating respect, kindness and professionalism.

And we will advance the priorities set for us by the Federal Government – including exploring innovative solutions that drive operational efficiencies, investing in systems that enhance our technological infrastructure and facilitating the passenger journey.

Our ability to carry this out is bolstered by the recent three-year funding commitment from the Government of Canada through Budget 2023, which leaves us better positioned to undertake more strategic, long-term planning.

We will also continue to plan for the seamless transition to new airport screening services agreements from the current agreements that are set to expire at the end of March 2024. A request for proposals for the delivery of these services was launched in January 2023 with a plan for new agreements to be in place by the end of the year and a transition period to commence immediately thereafter.    

Because CATSA is just one part of a complex system that moves people and goods across our vast country and beyond our borders, we are strongly committed to continually building and strengthening collaborative relationships with industry stakeholders and partners for our collective success.

I look forward to working productively with Transport Canada, our screening contractors, airport authorities and air carriers. Together, we must continually strive to achieve excellence in all aspects of the passenger experience.

Thank you for joining us today. I am excited to lead CATSA through the year ahead and to work alongside the CATSA team and the Board of Directors on the challenges and opportunities to come.

Thank you, Ms. Semaan

This concludes our Annual Public Meeting. It has been our pleasure to share highlights from the previous year and to offer a preview of the year to come.

Please take note that you can send questions and request clarification through our website at You have until July 4 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.