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This article was published 5/5/2016 (1390 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The parliamentary committee studying a bill that waters down maintenance job requirements Air Canada has in Manitoba has refused a request to hold hearings in Winnipeg.
The House of Commons Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Committee is in the middle of a review of Bill C-10, which will change the Air Canada Public Participation Act to give the airline more control over the kind of maintenance jobs it must keep in Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.
NDP MP Daniel Blaikie made a special appearance at the committee Wednesday to introduce a motion calling for the committee to take its hearings to Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga and hear from some of the workers who lost their jobs four years ago when Air Canada’s heavy maintenance subsidiary, Aveos Fleet Performance, went bankrupt. Air Canada moved most of the work out of country after that.
The workers, unions and the NDP believe the existing law requires Air Canada to resurrect those jobs, which were highly skilled and well-paying. By changing the law, they argue Transport Minister Marc Garneau is letting Air Canada get away with keeping a small number of lower-paying jobs in those places.
Quebec courts found Air Canada was violating the Air Canada Public Participation Act by not having overhaul maintenance centres in the specified cities. That lawsuit, brought by the government of Quebec and supported by the government of Manitoba, was on its way to the Supreme Court until Air Canada came up with a deal with both provinces.
In Quebec, the airline is buying new Bombardier jets and promising to do the maintenance work on them in Quebec for 20 years. In Manitoba, the airline is creating a maintenance centre of excellence and promising at least 150 jobs next year.
Garneau said he is amending the act to give the airline more flexibility to compete in a highly competitive global airline industry.
Blaikie introduced his motion Wednesday but committee chairwoman Judy Sgro, a Liberal MP from Toronto, took the committee in camera to discuss it. In camera discussions can’t be revealed but with no plan to bring the committee to Winnipeg, Montreal or the Toronto area, it’s clear the motion was not supported.
Blaikie said the committee would benefit from hearing from actual workers affected.
"There is a human component that is getting missed here," he said.
Sgro’s office said she was unable to respond to an interview request Thursday.
Updated on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 5:20 PM CDT: Tweaks headline.