The Trudeau government is proposing to eliminate the federal agency in charge of traveller, baggage and worker security screening at airports.
Buried in Finance Minister Bill Morneau's 460-page budget that was delivered Tuesday is a clause noting that the government is "transitioning the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to an independent, not-for-profit entity."
"The government intends to introduce legislation to establish this entity," budget 2019 states.
The budget also proposes funding for CATSA and Transport Canada, its regulator, to kickstart the new non-profit and "to ensure that air travellers and workers at airports are effectively screened" alongside the federal police force, the RCMP.
The budget outlines $296 million in 2019-20 and $871 million in 2020-21 to be given to the new entity and Transport Canada -- as well as taking off the books a total of $523 million that would have flowed from other departments.
In addition to security screening, CATSA manages what's known as the red card system, where identity cards are issued to every person accessing airport restricted areas. Applicants need to undergo federal background checks.
The reference to eliminating CATSA is contained on page 300 of the budget, in an annex titled "other budget 2019 measures (not included in previous chapters)."
It is not cited anywhere else in the budget plan, or any additional documents distributed to media alongside the budget, nor in the speech in Parliament delivered by Morneau.
Transport Canada asked for feedback in 2016 on the way airport security screening was conducted, including the possibility of privatizing CATSA.
The industry group that represents Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat, the National Airlines Council of Canada, told Transport Minister Marc Garneau that the current system was "bursting at the seams."