Hundreds of Temporary Foreign Pilots in Canadian Cockpits Threaten Safety, Jobs: Chow
February 28, 2013
OTTAWA – Canadians with proper training and safety records should fly Canadian planes. But to pay lower wages, airlines are increasingly laying off Canadian pilots and replace them with seasonal foreign pilots. A dangerous trend that is threatening air safety, as a recent event showed in which fighter jets were scrambled to escort a Portuguese-operated Sunwing plane.
In an open letter to Transport Minister Lebel, NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow deplores the free range given to Canadian airlines.
Olivia Chow’s Open Letter:
Dear Minister Lebel,
Foreign pilots and wet-leased aircraft are flooding Canada’s aviation sector. The result is a skewed market in which Canadian pilots cannot compete against cheaper temporary foreign workers. Airlines cannot compete against rivals that lease their aircraft abroad – including crews.
During the winter travel season, 60% of all pilots flying for Canadian airlines are temporary foreign workers. The Canadian Transportation Agency is rubber-stamping wet-lease applications – as recently as last week.
Hundreds of Canadian pilots are unemployed; not because they are not qualified, but because airlines are exploiting loopholes and willful neglect by federal authorities.
Worse, the systematic use of foreign pilots might compromise our air safety. Language barriers, lack of proper training and unfamiliarity with Canadian regulations can easily lead to serious errors.
Canada needs a national wet-lease policy, not ad-hoc rulings that open the floodgates for foreign pilots and crews to take Canadian jobs. I am asking you to establish such a policy to protect Canadian jobs, the Canadian airline industry and the Canadian air travellers.
A national framework must limit the use of wet leases and temporary foreign workers on Canadian planes to short-term, non-continuous arrangements after exhausting Canada’s pool of pilots and crews.
I’m looking forward to working with you to make Canada’s skies safer and protect our pilots from unfair foreign competition.
Olivia Chow, MP (Trinity-Spadina)
Official Opposition Transport and Infrastructure Critic