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A passenger studies carry-on restrictions at Pearson airport in Toronto in this January, 2010, file photo.

J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail/j.p. moczulski The Globe and Mail

Small scissors and tools, such as eyeglass screwdrivers, are now allowed aboard passenger planes in Canada, while restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols remain the same.

There's a six-centimetre limit for these tools, excluding the handle. Knives of any length, including Swiss Army multi-tools, are still banned.

The changes announced Thursday are part of an effort to reduce hassles at airports, said Transport Minister Chuck Strahl.

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Other changes are in the works to speed up security screening.

"There will also be new dedicated lanes for families and those with special needs, with equipment specifically designed for bigger items like strollers," he said. This includes larger scanners for those oversized items.

There will also be new lines for frequent travellers pre-approved under the long-running Nexus card program.

The minister said security authorities will focus on better and smarter screening, with special attention to high-threat items, such as explosives.

Strahl said the goal is to ensure security while increasing convenience for travellers.

"We've listened to travellers and the aviation security community, and we believe these initiatives achieve the best balance of aviation safety and security, and passenger convenience," he said.

Strahl said he recognizes the frustration sparked by air-security measures.

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"It's a process that's more tolerated than enjoyed," he said at a news conference at Ottawa's airport.

The Transport Department noted in a news release that manicure scissors and miniature screwdrivers pose little threat in an era of reinforced cockpit doors and other routine security measures.

The new rules also bring Canada in line with international standards.

The inclusion of small scissors and tools in carry-on baggage aligns with recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations that deals with aviation security and safety standards.

It also means Canada's checked baggage will meet the same standards the U.S. and European Union changed years ago.

The changes follow a June, 2010, review by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to ensure travellers are getting what they paid for with the increase to the air travellers security charge for flights.

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Regulations on acceptable carry-on items have shifted back and forth in recent years in response to attempts by terrorists to circumvent security systems.

For example, the government last fall banned the carrying of large cartridges of copier toner after an attempt was made to down a cargo plane with explosives packed into such a container.

Other items still not permitted in checked baggage include firearms; liquids, aerosols or gels over 100 ml; box cutters or other heavy tools; golf clubs; toys resembling real weapons; and lighters.

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