Travellers at Montreal’s Trudeau airport continue to face long waits at customs.
While many may have attributed the increased wait times to either the recent Labour Day long weekend or the summer travel season, officials at Trudeau airport say the customs issue has been brewing for years.
“We’ve increased traffic from 12 million in 2010 to almost 16 million now, but we haven’t gotten the border agents to keep up with the increase,” airport spokesperson Christine Beaulieu said Wednesday.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says their goal is to have passengers wait no more than 20 minutes.
Many wait much longer, especially in the late afternoon and early evening.
According to the union representing customs agents, 20,000 passengers are processed at Trudeau airport everyday and 7,000 of those passengers go through customs between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, some passengers ended up in the customs line for close to two hours.
Representatives for the Customs and Immigration Union say that a hiring freeze – implemented by the previous Conservative government – has led to staff shortages.
“People were retiring and not being replaced and now you’re seeing the result of all that,” Jean Pierre Fortin, from the Customs and Immigration Union told Global News.
“I have 33 years of service, I’m a border services agency myself and I think this is the worst summer across Canada that I’ve seen,” Fortin explained.
Forty self-serve kiosks were put in place at the airport to help ease the lineups, but officials say it isn’t enough.
“We’re working with the CBSA and the government to come up with solutions,” Beaulieu said.
Both the customs union and officials at Trudeau airport say they are looking to the new federal Liberal government to hire more agents on the ground.