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Manitoba senator pushes for $20M in aerospace jobs

SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Conservative Sen. Don Plett said he won't support bill C-10 unless the federal government makes commitments for Manitoba's aerospace industry. </p>

SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Conservative Sen. Don Plett said he won't support bill C-10 unless the federal government makes commitments for Manitoba's aerospace industry.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/6/2016 (1071 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Conservative Sen. Don Plett said he will do everything he can to prevent bill C-10 from passing the upper chamber before the summer recess unless the federal government comes up with $20 million in promised aerospace job training funds for Manitoba.

The bill amends the Air Canada Public Participation Act to no longer require the airline to keep heavy maintenance jobs in Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga, Ont. Instead, the airline can determine the type and number of maintenance jobs it has in Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.

The bill passed second reading in the Senate Wednesday and still has committee stage and third reading to go. Plett told the Free Press Thursday he believes in free enterprise but said the bill hurts Manitoba's aerospace industry.

Air Canada had heavy maintenance workers in Winnipeg until 2012, when a subsidiary doing the work went bankrupt. It has sent most of those jobs outside Canada since, which two Quebec courts have agreed violates the current act. If Bill C-10 passes, Air Canada will no longer be in violation of the act, but it also means the airline is unlikely to bring heavy maintenance work back to Winnipeg, which many former workers had hoped would happen.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/6/2016 (1071 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Conservative Sen. Don Plett said he will do everything he can to prevent bill C-10 from passing the upper chamber before the summer recess unless the federal government comes up with $20 million in promised aerospace job training funds for Manitoba.

The bill amends the Air Canada Public Participation Act to no longer require the airline to keep heavy maintenance jobs in Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga, Ont. Instead, the airline can determine the type and number of maintenance jobs it has in Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.

The bill passed second reading in the Senate Wednesday and still has committee stage and third reading to go. Plett told the Free Press Thursday he believes in free enterprise but said the bill hurts Manitoba's aerospace industry.

Air Canada had heavy maintenance workers in Winnipeg until 2012, when a subsidiary doing the work went bankrupt. It has sent most of those jobs outside Canada since, which two Quebec courts have agreed violates the current act. If Bill C-10 passes, Air Canada will no longer be in violation of the act, but it also means the airline is unlikely to bring heavy maintenance work back to Winnipeg, which many former workers had hoped would happen.

"When my province loses, has a net loss as a result of this, then I have a problem," said Plett. "I'm a senator from Manitoba and I'm going to stick up for Manitoba."

Plett said prior the provincial election, Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk promised the previous NDP government Ottawa would come through with $20 million for aerospace industry training in Manitoba. Since then, the promise hasn't been fulfilled.

"I am saying, Mr. Prime Minister, if you want us to pass Bill C-10 before we rise for the summer, you simply make an announcement that you will fulfil... your commitment to Manitoba and make sure they get that industry training," he said. "If you do, I will most certainly not hold up your legislation. I will do my best to adjourn the debate before we rise for the summer if Manitoba does not get a net benefit."

A spokeswoman for the provincial government said the new Tory government was made aware by provincial officials of the deal offered to the previous government but has received nothing from Ottawa about it despite several attempts to get information.

Plett met recently with federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau and said Garneau "agreed that promise had likely been made." He said he has had assurances this is being raised with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and he expects to hear something by the time the Senate committee meets about C-10 on June 20.

The Manitoba government has signalled repeatedly it will not support the bill unless net benefits for Manitoba are realized, but has never specified what those benefits have to be.

When approached by the Free Press about the $20-million training commitment, Mihychuk's director of communications responded with a written statement from the minister that did not address it.

"Every day I fight for jobs across Canada, including good quality jobs at home in Manitoba. I am acutely aware how important the aerospace industry is to Manitoba and Western Canada," she said. "I’ve had many meetings and discussions about jobs and skills opportunities, including with the Manitoba government and with organizations like Magellan, CentrePort and the Winnipeg Airport Authority. I will continue to advocate for aerospace jobs in Winnipeg, Manitoba and across Canada."

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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