Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate a very important issue that I raised in the House regarding an unacceptable situation that affects many Canadians pilots, many of whom are from Ahuntsic.
I learned that many airlines, under dubious pretexts, have been hiring foreign pilots, thereby putting qualified and available Canadian pilots out of work. I also learned that this kind of practice is happening in other areas of the aviation industry and it affects flying instructors, helicopter pilots, bush pilots and aerial spraying pilots, just to name a few.
The excuses that the airlines are giving to the government are absolute nonsense. Some companies, for example, require experience on aircraft that they do not even have in their fleet, or require degrees that have nothing to do with the job in question. The purpose of these requirements is of course to give preference to foreign candidates to the detriment of Canadian pilots.
It was also brought to my attention that some companies are posting bogus job offers on sites that no one visits, so they can pretend that they had no applicants to certain jobs.
Although a number of companies may be audited, Sunwing Airlines is the most questionable. Although that company acknowledges that it received 900 resumés of Canadian pilots, it claims it did not find any qualified Canadian pilots.
What is more, Sunwing Airlines apparently filed new applications for temporary foreign workers for its winter season. That is very suspicious since there would be a well-known pool of qualified Canadian pilots available for their category of plane, according to the information I was given.
When I asked the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Democratic Reform about this, he said, “Before hiring foreign workers, the company must prove that it attempted to advertise the job in question to determine whether or not Canadians were available.”
He also said that his government put in place harsh penalties for those who break the rules and that his government's policy is to ensure that Canadians are given priority for jobs in Canada. He said any company that breaks the rules will be punished.
We heard those fine words, now we want action.
Let us ask ourselves this question: will the minister order an audit of Sunwing Airlines' practices and, if necessary, impose the harsh penalties he was talking about? Will the minister audit the practices of all other airlines in order to flush out offending companies?
Canadian pilots want action. If the government continues to do nothing about an issue of such importance to the Canadian economy, it is, in my opinion, condoning these unacceptable practices.