Board Profile - Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

CATSA's Mandate

CATSA delivers the mandate of security screening at 89 designated airports across the country through a third-party screening contractor model. Playing a key role in Canada’s air transportation system, CATSA is responsible for the delivery of the following four mandated activities:

Pre-Board Screening (PBS): At airport checkpoints across the country, security screening of passengers and their belongings is conducted by CATSA’s Screening Officers (SO) prior to their entry into the secure area of an air terminal building.

SOs use a variety of screening technologies and procedures to examine passengers and their belongings to prevent them from carrying prohibited items beyond the screening point.

Hold Baggage Screening (HBS): SOs use specialized equipment to screen passengers’ checked baggage (or hold baggage) to prevent the boarding of prohibited items such as explosives.

Non-Passenger Screening (NPS): At restricted-area access points across the country, non-passengers are randomly selected for screening by CATSA’s SOs. Non-passengers include flight and cabin crews, airline customer service personnel, caterers, maintenance personnel, baggage handlers, vendors, and other airport service staff as well as vehicles accessing the restricted area.

Restricted Area Identity Card (RAIC): The RAIC system, created by CATSA in partnership with Transport Canada and airport authorities, uses iris and fingerprint biometric identifiers to allow non-passengers to access restricted areas of airports. The final authority that determines access to the restricted areas of the airport is the airport authority itself.

Each of these activities is carried out effectively, efficiently, consistently, and in the public interest, as required by the CATSA Act.

In addition:

  1. Under an agreement concluded with Transport Canada in 2010, CATSA is authorized to conduct screening, where capacity exists, of cargo at smaller airports.
  2. In 2019, the Government of Canada enacted the Security Screening Services Commercialization Act (SSSCA), which enables the commercialization of Canadian aviation security screening services. Negotiations related to the sale of CATSA’s assets and liabilities were put on hold in 2020 as the Government of Canada and the proposed buying entity (comprised of airport and airline representatives) respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the timeline for the sale remains unknown.
  3. Per the Interim Orders Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19 issued by Transport Canada, as of July 30, 2020, CATSA was instructed to conduct temperature screening on all passengers and non-passengers passing through CATSA’s checkpoints at certain designated airports. In response to the evolution of the pandemic, the Government of Canada ceased temperature screening at Canadian airports in August 2021.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall stewardship of CATSA. It has a duty to protect the long-term interests of the corporation, safeguard CATSA’s assets, and practice due diligence in its decision-making. CATSA is accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Transport.

The key roles and responsibilities of the Board include the following:

Strategic Direction and Public Policy

  • oversee the implementation of the corporate mandate;
  • approve CATSA’s recommended strategic direction as contained in the Corporate Plan;
  • ensure the implementation of written policy directions from the Minister;
  • ensure CATSA communicates effectively with Government, other stakeholders, and the public; and
  • ensure full and fair reporting of the stewardship of CATSA.

Financial Oversight

  • ensure diligent financial management of the corporation;
  • ensure the Audit Committee is composed of financially literate directors;
  • ensure CATSA has adequate resources and is efficient and effective in its operations;
  • approve audit plans and receive internal audit reports; and
  • receive and review the annual Auditor’s Report and maintain ongoing contact with both the Chief Audit Executive and the external auditor.

Corporate and Governance Oversight

  • annually establish the President and Chief Executive Officer’s objectives, evaluate performance, and recommend performance pay;
  • develop an effective working relationship with management;
  • provide advice and support for the President and Chief Executive Officer, without interfering in day-to-day management of CATSA;
  • oversee management and corporate performance;
  • ensure the diligent management and administration of CATSA’s pension plans and group RRSP;
  • ensure there are appropriate systems and practices in place for effective direction on governance issues;
  • ensure the Governance, Human Resources and Pension Committee is composed of directors with human resources and pension governance experience;
  • approve the Corporate Plan and Capital and Operating Budget submissions to the Minister;
  • approve the Annual Report prior to submission to the Minister;
  • ensure mechanisms are in place to identify corporate risks, specify the priority risks and create and update risk management plans;
  • review and approve Board-level policies, such as the code of ethics and contracting policies;
  • make critical strategic decisions that contribute to organizational effectiveness; and
  • bring an outside perspective to corporate deliberations.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

Particular challenges, issues and initiatives include:

  • adapting to the evolving aviation security and biosecurity landscape;
  • mitigating risks to organizational and operational capacity, including those created by financial restraints during times of continuing passenger growth and inflation, and those risks resulting from the pandemic;
  • seamless delivery of security screening services in a normal operating environment and during the industry’s pandemic recovery;
  • implementing new initiatives to support the industry’s pandemic recovery efforts;  
  • uncertainty regarding the proposed commercialization of CATSA’s services;
  • maintaining sustainable financing for the organization;
  • focused and proactive planning, particularly regarding technology acquisitions for recapitalization projects and future aviation security and biosecurity needs, to ensure a safe and effective screening environment for travelers and screening personnel.

Core Attributes, Competencies and Experience

CATSA’s Board of Directors has created a Competency Profile. The Competency Profile provides a description of the core attributes, competencies, and experience that the Board as a whole should possess.

The Competency Profile is also designed to guide the Chairperson in the appointment of directors to the various Board committees and to assist the Minister in making appropriate appointments when filling vacancies on the Board.

It is expected that all Directors will demonstrate and apply the following in the performance of their responsibilities as members of CATSA’s Board:

Informed Judgment

The ability to present opinions and thoughtful counsel based on sound judgement, analyze issues underlying situations and problems, and ask relevant questions at the strategic level and consider the different stakeholders’ perspectives.

Integrity and Accountability

Demonstrating high ethical standards and integrity, being willing to act on and remain accountable for Board decisions, meeting the accountabilities outlined in the law, bylaws and rules of the Board, and seeing oneself as serving the interests of Canadians.

Impact and Influence

Directors are expected to be:

  • aware of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on the air transport sector and the travelling public;
  • sensitive to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders; and
  • able to convince or influence others in order to have a specific impact or effect, including but not limited to the following qualities:
    • adaptability,
    • collegiality,
    • dependability, and
    • willingness to listen.

Skills, Knowledge and Experience

This section sets out the personal skills, experience and expertise that the Board as a whole should possess to ensure its role is effectively performed.


Each Director is expected to possess, at a minimum, a basic level of the following essential skills:

  • Communication skills;
  • Strategic thinking;
  • Computer competency (CATSA uses an internet-based Board portal to support its meetings); and
  • Proficiency in both official languages is an asset, but not essential.

These individual skills are used collectively for the basic functions of the Board, in particular in its advisory tasks. They lay the foundation for a high performance Board.

Knowledge and Experience

The Board as a whole should ideally have one or more Directors with the following areas of knowledge and experience:


  • Financial literacy and competency, ideally with a professional designation;
  • Knowledge or education in the following areas:
    • Legal
    • Labour relations
    • Public policy
    • Media or communications
    • Pension plan administration or governance
    • Pension plan investment
    • Information technology
    • Security or intelligence
    • Client services or marketing
  • Knowledge of good governance principles;
  • Knowledge of the machinery of Federal government;
  • Knowledge of risk management;
  • Knowledge of auditing practices; and
  • Knowledge of human resource management.


  • Previous experience reporting to, sitting on, or leading a Board of Directors;
  • Major project management experience;
  • Introducing enhanced customer experiences;
  • Human resource management experience; and
  • Business experience in any of the following sectors:
    • Aviation industry,
    • Transportation (non-aviation) industry,
    • Security industry, or
    • Intelligence industry.


Board members are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister. Two of the directors must be nominees submitted by representatives of the airline industry, and two must be nominees submitted by representatives of airport authorities. Representation of the Canadian population and Canada’s geographic regions is a factor in anticipating future needs as Board vacancies arise.

Working Conditions

  • CATSA directorships are part time appointments. The Board is required to meet at least four (4) times a year and generally meets more often. Quarterly meetings are held  by videoconference, at the CATSA Headquarters in Ottawa, or at various airport locations across Canada. Directors are required to participate in committees and teleconference meetings as required. There are currently two (2) standing committees, namely, the Audit Committee and the Governance, Human Resources and Pension Committee. There is also currently one ad-hoc committee, the Transaction Committee.
  • The average annual time commitment of Directors, excluding the Chairperson, is 25 days, including meeting preparation time. Committee work may require additional days.
  • Directors sit on at least one (1) committee.
  • Directors must comply with Part X of the Financial Administration Act, the CATSA Act, and CATSA’s bylaws. Additional duties and responsibilities for Directors are set out in (i) the Code of Conduct and Ethical Behaviour for Directors, (ii) the Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures Policy, (iii) several guidelines, and (iv) additional CATSA Board-level policies as may be applicable from time to time. In addition, specific responsibilities for committee members are set out in the applicable committee’s Terms of Reference.
  • Pursuant to Section 12 (2) of the CATSA Act, a director:
    • must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
    • cannot be a member of the Senate, the House of Commons or a legislature;
    • cannot be a full time public servant of Canada or a province; and
    • cannot be a mayor, councillor, officer or employee of a municipality.
  • Remuneration and expenses:  the current per diem rate for CATSA directors is $390 (within the range of $360-$420) and the current annual retainer for CATSA directors is $5,400 (within the range of $4,600-$5,400). All reasonable expenses are reimbursed in accordance with CATSA’s Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures Policy.