|FROM THE HILL|
|Legislative and Political Report|
Report from Parliament Hill
Canadian Government Affairs efforts in 2003 and beyond.
By Art LaFlamme, ALPA Senior Representative, Security
and Legislative Affairs
Air Line Pilot, March 2004, p.28
The dominant issue for ALPA’s Governmental Affairs program in Canada heading into 2004 is to build relationships with those likely to be influential in the new government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was sworn in on Dec. 12, 2003.
That a significant number of Transport Committee members and other members of Parliament with whom ALPA has met have been appointed as Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers is encouraging. These individuals know aviation issues and sympathize with many of the issues of concern to ALPA. Capts. Duane Woerth and Kent Hardisty have requested a meeting with new Transport Minister Tony Valeri.
While the new government offers the promise of a strong and durable relationship for ALPA, the Association addressed several issues before the change in government. Among the highlights of the 2003 agenda in Canada were the following:
Canadian airline industry viability
ALPA lobbied senior Canadian government bureaucrats and politicians strongly on the constantly escalating government fees, taxes, and charges imposed on airline passengers in Canada. These costs are negatively affecting the sustainability of the industry and reducing demand for air travel, particularly on short-haul routes.
ALPA appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport on April 3, 2003, recommending, among other measures, that the government
• eliminate the security charge,
• cease collecting airport rents, and
• facilitate Air Canada’s purchase or lease of Canadian-built regional airliners.
As a result, the government reduced the security charge for domestic travel by 40 percent and provided some relief to airports in the payment of airport rents. In addition, the government announced in November 2003 that it was looking at mechanisms to allow Air Canada to obtain Bombardier regional aircraft at favorable rates.
The government appears to have finally determined that it can no longer treat the airline industry as a cash cow. The fact that the government was persuaded to reduce a tax is not an everyday event.
ALPA has lobbied strongly over the past 2 years for a national pass system for airline employee incorporating biometrics. These efforts came to fruition in November 2002, when the Minister of Transport announced that the government would proceed with such a system. In March and July 2003, ALPA attended consultation meetings in which the details of the system were discussed.
ALPA put forward its views as to the applicability of this pass system to pilots. For the most part, Transport Canada has adopted these suggestions. Trials will begin soon at Vancouver and Montreal airports. The new pass system is scheduled to be implemented later in 2004.
ALPA worked hard at making contact and building relationships with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who conduct the Aircraft Protection Officer (APO) program, which is the Canadian equivalent to the FAM program in the United States.
ALPA was successful in arranging a meeting at the RCMP’s Ottawa headquarters where cooperation and coordination between ALPA and the RCMP were discussed.
The RCMP also agreed to brief ALPA’s National Security Committee at the September 2003 meeting held in Ottawa.
ALPA participated in consultation meetings on new regulations on training requirements for flightcrew members. The main deficiency noted was the lack of any requirement to train cockpit crewmembers in defensive tactics. ALPA communicated in writing the Association’s position on the necessity for this training in the post-9/11 world.
At the NSC meeting in Ottawa, ALPA was able to arrange senior-level presentations from Transport Canada Security and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) officials.
ALPA has communicated to Transport Canada officials the need to address vulnerabilities in air cargo security and to deal with MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) as an emerging threat. Transport Canada recently announced that the department was conducting an internal review of the adequacy of cargo security regulations and measures and would include stakeholders in the near future.
The Canada Transportation Act
ALPA appeared before the Transport Committee on May 5, 2003, regarding interlining access to Air Canada’s network as drafted in Bill C-26. The Bill, if passed as drafted, would have required Air Canada to enter into arrangements with any air carrier requesting to interline with its network. This provision for many reasons is very unfair and uncompetitive, and would have been very damaging to Air Canada Jazz.
ALPA was very strong in its condemnation of this provision before the Committee and demanded its removal from the Bill. The Bill died with the change in government, and we do not expect that this interlining provision will be reintroduced.
The draft Canada Airports Act
The government introduced this legislation supposedly to increase accountability and transparency in local authorities’ administration of airports. The draft legislation is deficient in that it does not require airport boards of directors to include airlines or unions. In addition, airport authorities are not required to consider stakeholder views before raising fees and charges. This bill has also died with the change in government.
ALPA will resume its work to ensure that accountability of airport boards is increased and that both airlines and unions are represented on these boards.
Transport Canada has consulted with stakeholders on major amendments it is proposing to the Aeronautics Act. These amendments include a provision for the creation of safety management systems (SMSs) in aviation companies and immunity and confidentiality in reporting of incidents within an SMS. The Association submitted extensive comments for improvements to this legislation, after coordinating within the ALPA Air Safety Structure and the Association’s Legal and Engineering and Air Safety Departments.
ALPA recommended that captain’s authority extend beyond flight time to include pre- and post-flight duties; that protection to the contents of the CVR be enhanced; that provisions for immunity and confidentiality in the reporting of incidents under an SMS be improved; that the Minister’s power to reconsider decisions of the Transportation Appeals Tribunal of Canada be limited; and that the prosecution limitation period not be extended.
The proposed legislation would replace current work and rest hours in the regulations with a program requiring a company-based program for the proactive management of fatigue in areas in which workers provide services that have a direct effect on aviation safety or security. ALPA wants to ensure that any planned introduction of fatigue risk-management programs in airline operations are contained within prescriptive flight-time and flight-duty-time limits.
ALPA’s concerns are based on sound safety reasons. Without a level playing field, some operators will abuse the intent of the program to gain a competitive advantage to the detriment of the traveling public. In addition, ALPA is concerned that the concept has not been scientifically validated. Acceptable levels of alertness cannot be achieved by specifying target or acceptable levels of risk. Moreover, a fatigue risk-management scheme would be difficult for regulators to evaluate and to enforce to minimum standards. ALPA commented strongly that more scientific study and substantiation are required before fatigue risk-management regulations can be contemplated in airline operations.