Evidence of meeting #36 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was pilots.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John McKenna  President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada
Robert Donald  Executive Director, Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace
Jeff Morrison  President and Chief Executive Officer, National Airlines Council of Canada
Ben Girard  Vice President and Chief of Operations, Nav Canada
Julian Roberts  President and Chief Executive Officer, Pascan Aviation Inc.
Kaylie Tiessen  National Representative, Research Department, Unifor
Jonathan Bagg  Director, Stakeholder and Industry Relations, Nav Canada
Yani Gagnon  Executive Vice-President and Co-owner, Pascan Aviation Inc.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Excellent.

I'll conclude my line of questioning with Ms. Tiessen, Mr. Chair.

I have a private member's bill coming forward to the finance committee, Ms. Tiessen, on Wednesday. It's a travel tax deduction for skilled trades specifically. It allows them to write off their meals, lodging and hotels.

You represent Unifor in a vast variety of sectors across Canada. Would this be something that Unifor would support for their workers? They could travel upwards of 120 kilometres away from home and spend a few nights out of town to support the aviation industry.

Is that something that would be palatable for Unifor and/or helpful for our workforce?

4:15 p.m.

National Representative, Research Department, Unifor

Kaylie Tiessen

Answering that question is far above my pay grade today.

We'll have a conversation here and we can get back to you on that question.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Excellent. Thank you, Ms. Tiessen.

I would certainly hope that you do get back to me. We look forward to your support, because any time we can help skilled trades, I think we're all on the same team.

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Schiefke

Thank you very much, Mr. Lewis.

We will continue with Mr. Iacono.

Mr. Iacono, you have the floor for six minutes.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the witnesses for being here.

My first question is for Mr. Girard.

To what extent are the different levels of government working together to help provide training for skilled workers in the sectors you need?

4:15 p.m.

Vice President and Chief of Operations, Nav Canada

Ben Girard

The situation is a bit unique at Nav Canada. We don't necessarily hire a pilot who has been trained by a school. Nav Canada hires people, trains them, and allows them to develop the skills required. That's why it takes a long time to get people qualified. As I said, it takes two to three years for some air traffic controllers. So the government is not necessarily involved in that aspect of the industry.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Was it the same situation before the pandemic?

4:20 p.m.

Vice President and Chief of Operations, Nav Canada

Ben Girard

The situation was the same: the same process existed.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

How many years before the pandemic did this problem exist?

4:20 p.m.

Vice President and Chief of Operations, Nav Canada

Ben Girard

What do you mean by “this problem”?

I want to make sure we are talking about the same thing.

October 31st, 2022 / 4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

I am thinking about the labour shortage.

4:20 p.m.

Vice President and Chief of Operations, Nav Canada

Ben Girard

There have been ups and downs over the years. Personally, I've been in the industry for 34 years; sometimes it goes well, but, other times, it goes a little less well.

Since 2008, we have been hit by different crises. It is important to look at what happened just before the pandemic. In some parts of the industry, there were sufficient numbers of employees. In several units in the country, there was even a surplus of staff.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

That's fine.

Ms. Tiessen, how easy is it for inexperienced workers to enter the labour market in your sectors?

What can be done to facilitate their integration?

4:20 p.m.

National Representative, Research Department, Unifor

Kaylie Tiessen

It's a great question. It really depends on what job people are taking on and the training requirements. Of course, training to be a pilot and training to be a customer service representative both require extensive training. Obviously, the training is incredibly different.

For some of our employers where we have the most new staff or where levels of staff have come back to levels that were available before the pandemic, we see that 60% of the staff are new. They haven't been trained as well as people were being trained before the pandemic. That creates a lot of frustration for the new employees and the employees with more seniority—our members—who have been working side by side with their new colleagues to try to make sure that everybody is up to the task. Those frustrations then lead to people quitting or taking a job somewhere else. There is extremely high turnover.

The training is not offered to the same extent that it could be.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

What are you doing to retain older workers or to get retired workers back into the labour market? What are you doing to encourage them to return?

4:20 p.m.

National Representative, Research Department, Unifor

Kaylie Tiessen

That would be something that would be taken on by employers, not necessarily by the unions. We'd be happy to work with our employers to develop attraction and retention—

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

I know. Do you work in collaboration with employers? To do that, the employer needs an agreement with the unions.

4:20 p.m.

National Representative, Research Department, Unifor

Kaylie Tiessen

Yes, we would be happy to work together in that collaboration to develop an attraction and retention program with our employers.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

That's good.

In your case, what steps have the different levels of government taken to finally address the labour issue in your sectors? How have you worked with the different levels of government?

You said that governments don't understand the problem. In your case, what have you done to address this issue? How have you approached the different levels of government?

4:20 p.m.

National Representative, Research Department, Unifor

Kaylie Tiessen

For the air transportation sector, it is particularly working with the federal government. We have meetings. We've written many letters, particularly talking about the problems that we have with using the temporary foreign worker program. I would like to see permanent immigration that doesn't undermine the quality of work in Canada as one example. We'll work directly with different government representatives in order to discuss those solutions and see them implemented.

Another that we've talked about extensively is full successor rights in order to end the worst effects of contract flipping and implementing living wages at airports across the country to increase the quality of work there. All of these pieces are very important.

How do we do that? We do it by coming to things like this, having other meetings, etc.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you.

Mr. Roberts, what was done before the pandemic to address the labour shortage?

4:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Pascan Aviation Inc.

Julian Roberts

As I said earlier, before the pandemic, we were getting a good number of CVs on a regular basis. We managed to keep control over the experience level of the crews. A lot of pilots were working fewer hours, so it was a little easier to put them in the cockpit. The CVs we get today are from pilots who have 200 to 250 hours of experience. They are not pilots that we can hire and put in commercial aircraft immediately. There is a big difference between 2019 and today.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Schiefke

Thank you very much, Mr. Iacono. Thank you, Mr. Roberts.

We'll turn the floor over to Mr. Barsalou‑Duval for six minutes.

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to start by asking if it is possible to confirm that all the witnesses have done the sound tests. I forgot to ask at the beginning of the meeting.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Schiefke

Yes, I can confirm that this is the case, Mr. Barsalou‑Duval.