Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this issue, especially in regard to the role of CATSA within the Canadian aviation security environment and how it relates to airport operations.
CATSA fulfills its obligations and conducts its operations within a fixed budget that is allocated by the Government of Canada. This budget is about fairness to all Canadians and all Canadian airports. CATSA manages these funds in accordance with the government's Financial Administration Act.
At the time of its creation in 2002, CATSA was allocated $1.9 billion for a five year period ending March 31, 2007.
As a result of the increased passenger volumes and expenses, as the member has mentioned, and related screening operating costs, this Conservative government actually granted CATSA in budget 2006 an additional $133 million over two years. That speaks to this government's commitment to the safety and security of Canadians. This represents $45 million for 2006 and $88 million for 2007.
With regard to the responsibility of hold baggage screening, CATSA will be required by regulation to screen 100% of hold baggage on domestic and international flights. Safety and security is our paramount concern. This initiative is part of the government's commitment to enhancing security as a result of, obviously, 2001 events. This has translated into the deployment of 100 projects and 2,500 pieces of screening equipment to the 89 designated Canadian airports over the past four years. What an achievement that is.
CATSA is required by Transport Canada regulation to install security screening equipment in all designated airports. To achieve this, CATSA works in cooperation with airport authorities to design and install the appropriate screening system.
It is no different for Thunder Bay. CATSA signs agreements with airport authorities which clearly define the financial responsibilities for the installation of security screening equipment.
Canadian airports receive from CATSA the funding required to cover construction costs for hold baggage screening equipment and an annual contribution toward the maintenance of the conveyor belt system associated with CATSA's equipment.
The Thunder Bay International Airport collaborated with CATSA on seven different designs for the hold baggage screening area. After an engineering review, CATSA and the airport chose the design they liked and agreed upon a fixed sum for which CATSA would reimburse the airport to cover construction costs.
CATSA's total commitment to the Thunder Bay International Airport is over $3 million. That is for the construction and installation of new equipment, plus the maintenance costs for the conveyor belt system associated with CATSA's equipment.
Consistent with CATSA's policy, other maintenance costs outside CATSA's security screening system are the responsibility of the airport authority, including any expansionary initiatives put forward by the Canadian airport in order to meet traffic demands, which is the case in this particular situation.
CATSA continually conducts reviews with airports to ensure screening processes meet present and future needs.
CATSA fulfills its mission to protect the public by screening critical elements of the air transportation system as assigned by the government. It is no different for all airports across Canada.
This government and this Prime Minister consider safety and security as the highest priority, which is why $133 million was allocated in budget 2006 for CATSA, $26 million over two years for air cargo security and $95 million for rail and transit security.
This government will be fair to all Canadians and all Canadian airports, no matter what province, what territory or what political persuasion of that area.