Canada Airline unions call on Ottawa for $7 billion in loans for ailing industry
Federal government's climate policy hangs in the balance as Supreme Court considers carbon tax
The battle over Ottawa's decision to impose a national price on carbon pollution is heading for a final showdown in front of Canada's highest court this morning. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments over the next two days on the constitutionality of the carbon pricing system — a critical part of the Liberal government's plan to cut Canada's carbon emissions by 70 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. The court is hearing three separate appeals from Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta — three provincial governments that argue the federal government is overstepping its authority and encroaching on provincial jurisdiction.
Video: COVID-19 fuels travel insurance considerations (Global News)
Labour leaders are calling on Ottawa to provide immediate financial aid and rapid viral testing to an airline industry devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The heads of two pilots' unions and Unifor asked the federal government on Thursday to offer carriers loans totalling $7 billion.
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James: 'Not one time have I said let's act violent toward cops'
LeBron James defended his critiques of law enforcement officers after the LA Lakers' Game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets.“Not one time have I ever said let’s act violent toward cops,” James said following the Lakers’ 114-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. “I just said what’s going on in our community is not okay. And we fear for that, and we fear for our lives. It’s something that we go through every single day as a Black man, a Black woman and a Black kid and a Black girl, we fear that moment where we’re pulled over.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis in Canada's aviation industry unlike anything seen before, and recovery may be years away," said Tim Perry, head of the Air Line Pilots Association's Canadian branch.
The 10-year credit plan being requested would include loan guarantees and direct financial aid but no grants, and would be commensurate with the support extended by other countries, they said.
The unions also asked Ottawa to back approval and deployment of rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers as a step toward easing travel restrictions and quarantine rules.
Governments across the globe have doled out $123 billion to assist the airline industry, said Unifor president Jerry Dias. Canada, on the other hand, has steered clear of sector-specific support, instead rolling out financial aid such as wage subsidies available to many industries.
Alberta premier says federal throne speech stomps into provincial jurisdiction
The "This Is Us" actress reveals she and husband, Taylor Goldsmith, are expecting a baby in 2021. Plus, Mandy reveals the baby's sex on Instagram!
Ottawa has also held off on requiring airlines to refund customers whose flights were cancelled due to the pandemic, potentially saving carriers hundreds of millions of dollars. In contrast, European and U.S. authorities have demanded airlines reimburse travellers, on top of the strings attached to financial lifelines that range from limiting dividends and executive bonuses to cutting carbon emissions and carving out ownership stakes for government.
Travel restrictions and dried-up demand continue to take a toll on the airline and tourism industries. More than than 30,000 employees have been laid off or furloughed at Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd. Passenger numbers in Canada are down between 90 and 97 per cent since the outbreak, according to a recent study by Statistics Canada.
"We are in dire, dire straits. Air Canada is blowing through about $15 million a day in cash... That is completely unsustainable," said Dias, whose union represents 15,000 workers in the industry including pilots, baggage handlers and customers sales agents.
Air Canada orders first batch of 25,000 rapid COVID-19 testing kits
Air Canada has ordered 25,000 testing kits that can detect COVID-19 in someone in as little as five minutes, a key hurdle for an industry that's desperately trying to make it safe and possible for travellers to fly again. The first batch of tests will be for employee volunteers, now that the devices by Abbott Laboratories have been approved for use in Canada by federal health and safety authorities, the airline said Thursday. Current tests have to be administered at testing centres, which have been plagued by long lineups, and results can take days.
Dias applauded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government for extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy into next summer, but said it does not go far enough. Meanwhile a federal program that provides loans starting at $60 million to large firms "just isn't working" due to "incredible restrictions" and roughly eight per cent interest, he said.
In its throne speech last week, the Liberal government pledged to "support regional routes," but has provided no details.
The National Airlines Council of Canada welcomed the plea from union leaders and backed their call for government adoption of a rapid testing regime as a critical step toward recovery, which remains in "Stage Zero," president Mike McNaney said in a release.
Until March, Canada's airline industry employed about 240,000 workers and contributed nearly $37 billion in GDP, according to the unions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Coronavirus. The government advocates teleworking, the unions want a clear framework .
© PHOVOIR "Many workstations allow remote work and rotations can be organized in order to limit the impact on the work group", explained the Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne on Monday 5 October. (Photo illustration) In high and maximum alert zones, the government wants teleworking to be favored by companies but does not want to take restrictive measures.