Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Nav Canada is the not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates the world's first privatized air navigation system, ensuring the safest, most efficient movement of aircraft from the Pacific to the Arctic to the mid-Atlantic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Having enough people to deliver safe and efficient air navigation services is a top priority for the company. This includes recruiting, training and staffing across a large number of roles such as air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, technologists, aeronautical information specialists, pilots, engineers and a range of supporting corporate employees.
Nav Canada employs a total of 4,400 employees, each with an important role to play.
Throughout the pandemic, Nav Canada has maintained the highest level of safety and a high level of service reliability and is still doing so today. Our direct contribution to system delays and bottlenecks represents a very small percentage of delays experienced within the aviation ecosystem.
Nonetheless, we take any Nav Canada related delays extremely seriously. We have been able to mitigate these to a large extent through the commitment and efforts of all of our employees and the strong collaborative relationships that we enjoy with our unions, customers and industry partners.
Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in unplanned absences across the business, including those related to COVID, unpaid leave due to the vaccine mandate, unexpected retirements as people make lifestyle decisions and additional leave entitlements applicable to federally regulated employers.
In the few instances when a staffing shortage may have impacted service delivery, Nav Canada did everything possible to minimize our impact on the industry. These steps included working with our staff to backfill the absences with overtime, optimizing staff scheduling and extending staff hours.
To support our operation, we have issued contracts to more than 50 retired employees, redeployed staff from other units, hired controllers from foreign jurisdictions and taken a number of other actions to ensure we have people in the right places.
Like other stakeholders in this industry, Nav Canada has faced and continues to face challenges made worse by the pandemic as well as the current employment market. As others have told you, there are significant challenges in recruiting people in the aviation industry.
Nav Canada's staffing plan is aligned with the future projected traffic over several years. Staffing plans take into account anticipated attrition and are mindful of our capacity to successfully train new employees. Supported by increased collaboration and information sharing with major airlines, we are monitoring traffic forecasts and the impact on staffing on an ongoing basis.
We are planning for the future, both in the short term and in the long term. Our frontline air traffic services training programs are currently running at full capacity. More than 250 individuals are currently in various phases of training, which can take between 24 to 36 months to complete. An additional 500 trainees will enter training programs for operational roles over the next two years. We are also adding 250 employees in non-operational roles this year.
The training for operational positions is delivered by training professionals and unionized operational employees. On this basis, the unions contribute to success rates for certification in air traffic service. Modernizing training programs are a key strategic priority for Nav Canada. We are improving training efficiency to support increased employees in operational positions over the long term.
In addition to a focus on staffing, Nav Canada is moving forward with strategic investments to introduce technology that increases safety, enables increased capacity and reduces the environmental impact of aviation.
Labour shortages are a complex issue, and there is no one simple solution to this issue. We are committed to working with our employees, unions, customers, stakeholders and the government to continue to provide a world-leading service while investing to meet future needs of aircraft operators and the flying public.
We have been and will continue to work collaboratively to address staffing issues and to continue to make Nav Canada an attractive place to build a career.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.