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Canadian air travel simply not safe: PSAC-Quebec

March 21, 2012, Montreal - The Harper government is threatening the safety of Canadian air travel through budget cutbacks and a change of safety inspection methods, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Quebec region whose members include Transport Canada (TC) civil aviation inspectors.


March 21, 2012
By Brian Dunn

Backed by the support of three Quebec NDP members of parliament at a news conference Tuesday, the PSAC accused the government of risking air safety by planning TC cuts that will lead to more aircraft undergoing paper rather than the more rigorous physical inspection.

“PSAC-Quebec is extremely concerned over the fact that increasingly fewer planes are being inspected by TC inspectors. Due to a lack of resources, TC has shifted from physical inspections of aircraft to paper inspections,” said Magali Picard, PSAC-Quebec’s alternate regional vice-president. Even (proposed) moderate cuts of five per cent in the March 29 (federal) budget will cause severe pain.”

“The safety of citizens is clearly not a priority for Stephen Harper. The government cannot claim to be ensuring safety on one hand and then turn around and slash funding for safety,” added Jamie Nicholls, NDP deputy transport critic.

The PSAC is also concerned about the wage disparity between TC technical inspectors and civil aviation inspectors with the latter group earning on average $25,000 more annually for essentially the same work, creating frustration among technical inspectors.

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In addition, the PSAC noted inspections at aircraft ramps in Canada are “practically non-existent” for major national and international carriers, whereas Canadian carriers are inspected when the go abroad. This assessment was substantiated by a TC employee in attendance. The PSAC questioned whether the U.S. and EU were aware that “oversight in Canada is well below the expectations of the other signatory states.”