Union leaders representing Unifor, the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) are calling on the Trudeau government to provide $7 billion of direct financial support for the aviation sector to stem job losses and revive air connectivity. Together, these unions represent more than 310,000 Canadian workers.
As part of the $7 billion rescue package, they are calling for:
- A combination of loan guarantees, as well as direct financial aid tied to the resumption and/or maintenance of air services, commensurate to the impact on the industry and consistent with the support extended by other countries; and
- Funding dedicated to developing an industry quarantine and testing plan that aligns with science and ensures safety.
In addition to the funding, union leaders are asking Canada to fund “air bridges” and support the “science-based approval and deployment” of rapid tests for COVID-19 to facilitate the eventual safe return to travel, which they say will be “key” to ensuring employee and public safety going forward.
“Canada needs to step up and support its industry like most other countries,” stated Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “There really is no more time to waste. We need urgent funds for the aviation sector or there won’t be Canadian airlines, and that will cost us all much more.”
Though the government hinted at support in its recent Throne Speech, it has not shared nor implemented any specific measures for the travel and tourism sector. Canada stands alone among leading developed countries – including the United Kingdom and the U.S. – in not extending direct support to the industry.
“The aviation sector is part of Canada’s national strategic infrastructure. Airlines and airports are essential not just to the Canadian economy – but to the Canadian communities that rely on them,” added Tim Perry, President of ALPA Canada.
“We need to ensure a strong Canadian airline industry to drive our economy – not just today but for the long-haul,” stated Robert Giguere, President of ACPA. “We don’t want to see Canada’s pandemic recovery stifled by inaction now, forcing us to rebuild this critical sector and harming Canada’s competitiveness and future growth.”
The union leaders noted that, seven months into the management of the pandemic, Canada’s government has failed to deliver the required level of industry support, leaving workers, employers and travellers with continued uncertainty.
While the extended Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has provided “some measure of job protection” for employees, there have still been thousands of layoffs in this sector and a disproportionately large number of furloughed aviation workers, the union leaders said in a news release.
At Air Canada and WestJet alone, some 30,000 skilled employees have lost their jobs.
“The harsh reality is that airlines are extremely capital-intensive operations with a high cash-burn rate and the requirement to preserve liquidity to maintain equipment, routes and staff. This reality is not considered under the CEWS,” they noted.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ’s newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she’s new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.