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Ottawa, Ontario – CUPE Airline Division President Michel Cournoyer and NDP Transport, Infrastructure and Communities critic Olivia Chow urge the Conservative government to stop compromising airline passenger safety with the dangerous decision to reduce the number of flight attendants on board of all Canadian airplanes

“The ratio of one flight attendant for every 40 passengers is safety-proven and the government should not play Russian roulette with passenger safety. In an emergency situation, be it an evacuation, a fire, a cabin decompression or a terrorist attack, every second counts. As safety professionals, flight attendants are the first line of defence when things go wrong on an aircraft,” said Cournoyer.

“The Conservatives say they care about the security and safety of Canadians. Unfortunately, when the time comes to help airline companies increase their profits, it seems that these values go out the cabin window at the expense of passengers’ safety. The government should admit its mistake and maintain the ratio of one flight attendant for every 40 passengers for all Canadian airlines,” said Chow.

The recent Conservative government’s decision to allow WestJet to use a ratio of one flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats on its flights is setting a dangerous precedent for passenger safety with every airline in Canada. On the heels of WestJet, Air Canada has also applied to Transport Canada to allow one flight attendant per 50 passenger seats on North American flights. The Conservative government also intends to change the existing regulation, so all Canadian airlines can switch to the one to 50 ratio.

CUPE’s ready to launch a legal challenge

If the federal government stubbornly continues on this slippery path to jeopardize passenger safety by granting the exemption requested by Air Canada, CUPE will launch a legal challenge.

“Because the rights and interests of our members to a safe and secure workplace will be directly affected, we are entitled to make our case for passenger safety before an exemption is granted. If a unilateral decision is made by Transport Canada, we will judicially review it based on a lack of procedural fairness. We will also rely on Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees the right to security of the person in accordance with principles of fundamental justice,” said Cournoyer.

Reduce airport taxes and fees instead

“Granting an exemption to Air Canada, WestJet or any other Canadian is clearly not in the public interest because it compromises the safety levels currently in place. If the Conserviative government wants to help the airline companies financially without compromising passenger safety it should reduce the various airport taxes and users fees that are gouging their private sector friends and passengers as well,” said Chow.

CUPE represents more than 10,000 flight attendants employed by Air Canada, Air Transat, Calm Air, Canadian North, Canjet, Cathay Pacific, First Air and Sun Wing.


Additional information:

Philippe Gagnon, Communications Officer, CUPE

[email protected]