President Daviau speaks about NAV CANADA at parliamentary committee
On January 26, 2021, PIPSC President Debi Daviau appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. She presented our members’ concerns about the situation at NAV CANADA and how to best ensure its continued viability.
This is the direct result of our meetings late last year with influential Members of Parliament. It’s the latest step in our joint campaign with other unions to ensure NAV CANADA obtains the governmental support needed to resume normal operations when air traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels.
PIPSC represents about 475 engineers and information technology specialists at NAV CANADA. Thanks to them, the Canadian Automated Air Traffic Management System is one of the most advanced and integrated flight data processing systems in the world.
Our members are essential to providing services to commercial and general aviation from facilities throughout Canada. This includes air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services, and electronic aids to navigation. They are also responsible for enterprise security and cyber activities.
NAV CANADA has no counterparts, no competitors. Since the fall, about 50 of our members have been notified of layoffs.
We realize that the company is losing millions of dollars every day because of the dramatic drop in air traffic over the past year. Management has to deal with that, but continued cuts to personnel and the closure of facilities across the country are simply not the way to go.
Instead, the federal government must take immediate and decisive action to keep the company in business, protect the safety of air travel in Canada, and protect the jobs of the people who ensure that safety.
We have several concerns regarding the impact of cuts on air safety and the long-term health of NAV CANADA:
- Reductions in services and personnel have resulted in Canadians expressing safety concerns about air travel.
- Remote and northern areas are heavily dependent on air traffic for many aspects of their daily lives – food, supplies, medical care and travel in and out of their communities. They cannot be left without this critical access.
- Some NAV CANADA facilities have been or are scheduled to be closed across Canada. Many more are under review.
- In what remains a male-dominated environment, many of the laid-off staff are women, often the most recently hired employees. Gender equality and diversity have suffered.
To address NAV CANADA’s financial difficulties, the government must immediately support the company by providing it with sufficient emergency funding to get through this crisis. A grant of $750 million for each of the next 2 years would preserve and restore its work force and allow it to deliver its key services. This is the only viable governmental financial support option given the cost recovery model used by NAV CANADA.
The grant must be accompanied by a moratorium on layoffs. The skills, expertise and experience that have kept our skies safe must be retained. They are the key to the successful recovery of air travel and related industries in Canada.
Finally, every effort must be made to rehire former employees once the air travel industry resumes normal activities. Such specialized staff cannot be recruited and trained overnight.
Given the airlines and related industries’ impact on the Canadian economy and the tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs affected, further inaction will only slow down Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. President Daviau concluded her presentation by urging the government to step in right away.