Pilot Commentary: 20 Years of Advancing Canadian Aviation

By Capt. Dan Adamus (Jazz Aviation), ALPA Canada Board President

This year marks the 20th anniversary of ALPA’s Canada Board. For two decades, ALPA pilots in Canada and the U.S. have been working together to advance safety, security, representational, and legislative issues that affect and advance our careers. Through these contributions, we have helped to ensure that North American aviation continues to lead the world in excellence.

While each year provides new challenges and new opportunities, this year has the potential to be a notable one for Canadian aviation. Since our new government took office a year ago, we’ve had a number of productive meetings with Members of Parliament and senators, as well as with representatives of the Trudeau government, and regulatory agencies that have provided us the opportunity to discuss issues affecting ALPA members.

One of our top priorities for 2017 is the long-overdue passage of new flight- and duty-time regulations. In August 2010, Transport Canada convened a working group to review and propose amendments to the regulations related to managing flight crew fatigue. Six years later, in June 2016, that agency finally announced that new regulations will be moving forward.

Since the onset, ALPA has been actively engaged on this issue. Our next action will be to provide comments to the proposed rules once they’re published this summer. We’re thankful to the current administration for making improvements to aviation safety, but more work needs to be done to ensure that a single, timely implementation process exists for all Canadian carriers. Updating flight-time/duty-time and minimum rest requirements has been one of the most important aviation safety initiatives for flight crews in Canada, and we’ll continue our efforts to implement a process that ensures Canadian pilots have access to these science-based fatigue rules within a timely manner.

Another initiative of the Canada Board’s pro-pilot agenda is continuing to ensure that Canadian pilots have first choice at pilot jobs. Over the years, ALPA has been successful in effecting change regarding the various ways that airlines have the opportunity to use temporary foreign workers. A number of our furloughed members are once again flying for Canadian airlines, and we remain committed to continue working with officials on reviewing the various programs that permit some Canadian airlines to use foreign pilots on a seasonal basis.

For Canadians, this topic sparked public outrage in early January after issues regarding an individual foreign pilot again brought these programs under scrutiny. ALPA’s work on the issue of foreign pilots operating in Canada is ongoing, and we continue to advocate for the government to adopt ALPA’s policy recommendations regarding wet-leasing and other programs.

ALPA pilots work tirelessly to advance aviation, and these efforts are the sole reason that since 1997, the Canada Board has been a respected voice for our nation’s aviation industry. The benefits of ALPA representation are the reasons that pilots across the U.S. and Canada continue to join our ranks. And for 2017, we’re well positioned for growth.

After a brief campaign driven by pilots at Air Georgian Limited, we’re currently awaiting the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to certify ALPA as the collective bargaining representative for the 230 pilots. Additionally, pilots at WestJet have made significant steps toward ALPA representation by building and training their Organizing Committee and are now in the process of signing membership cards. Our vision of representing all airline pilots in Canada and the U.S. remains strong, and we continue to have a dialogue with several other pilot groups in Canada to gauge their interest in joining ALPA.

As the voice of airline pilots in Canada for 20 years, ALPA will continue to advocate for real change that is necessary for Canadian airlines and their workers to maintain the highest standards of safety and thrive in the global marketplace. I’m proud to be a part of this great union and look forward to our continued success.

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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