Air Canada outsourcing – a joint letter from the federal NDP BC Caucus

Libby and her BC colleagues sent the following letter to Transport Minister John Baird
March 3, 2010

The Hon. John Baird, P.C. M.P.
Minister for Transport
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Baird,

In your January 12, 2010 letter in response to our colleague Bill Siksay and co-signatories regarding the future of Air Canada and its employees, you recognized the strategic importance of Canada’s air transportation system, of which Air Canada constitutes a critical component.

In addition to referring to the federal government’s role in helping ensure the financial viability of Air Canada, you highlighted Air Canada`s role in connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast and beyond.

A key component of maintaining the integrity of Canada’s transportation system is ensuring that a critical mass of technical and maintenance aviation servicing expertise remains in Canada. This is, of course, in addition to safety and security concerns.

Regrettably, in spite of Air Canada receiving federal funding support, Air Canada’s management has been relentlessly outsourcing the servicing and maintenance of its aircraft in low-cost developing countries. This is an issue that we have raised many times in the House, and at committee as well as in previous correspondence with your department.

Once again technical and heavy maintenance personnel at Air Canada are facing large numbers of layoffs scheduled to begin in April 2010. There will be 435 permanent layoffs system-wide, with an additional approximate 400 temporary layoffs over the summer months of 2010. In total about 1000 highly-skilled jobs are at stake.

These layoffs will have huge impacts on Air Canada stations in Vancouver as well as Winnipeg and Montreal. To date, Air Canada has remained unwilling to cooperate with its employees in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

We once again urge you to work in the best interest of Canada and our workers by taking swift action to stop the hemorrhaging of good, family-supporting Canadian jobs. The outsourcing of highly-skilled and well-paying Canadian jobs to lower-cost maintenance facilities must be stopped, and your government has the leverage to do just that.

The federal government has already invested significantly to protect this strategic asset. Most recently your government has provided support for a $600-million-collateral-backed loan which was key in helping Air Canada improve its financial position.

Therefore, not only is there a moral and policy obligation to make sure that these efforts protect Canadian jobs, but it is also imperative that your government play a key role in facilitating the discussion between Air Canada’s management and its workforce to reach a workable solution.
We strongly urge you to work with Air Canada to ensure that jobs stay in our country. Please rest assured that you have our full cooperation in this regard.

Bill Siksay (MP Burnaby Douglas) Alex Atamenenko (MP BC Southern Interior) Jean Crowder (MP Nanaimo Cowichan)
Nathan Cullen (MP Skeena-Bulkley Vally) Don Davies (MP Vancouver Kingsway) Libby Davies (MP Vancouver East)
Peter Julian (MP Burnaby-New Westminster) Denise Savoie (MP Victoria)