Friday, April 13, 2012

Aviation security, marine operations face cutbacks

OTTAWA – Transport Canada on Thursday signaled it will be cutting aviation security inspectors at the country’s large airports and reducing its marine security operations.

In an internal memo sent to staff about coming cuts intended to shrink the department’s overall budget by 10.7 per cent, Deputy Minister Yaprak Baltacioglu and Associate Deputy Minister Anita Biguzs outlined in broad strokes how Transport Canada will slash costs by $61.8 million within three years.

In addition to reducing the presence of aviation-security inspectors at all major airports, the department will find cost savings within the marine security program, states the memo, dated April 12 and obtained by Postmedia News.

Front-line aviation security inspectors, stationed at airports, oversee the work of Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, screening passengers and baggage at airports. Marine inspectors inspect vessels and major ports, looking for safety problems and identifying illegal or dangerous goods.

Christine Collins, president of the union that represents these inspectors and other employees at Transport Canada, reads the memo differently.

The head of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a division of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says she has “serious concerns” based on the “program changes” itemized in the memo.

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