Canadian North

Canadian North Pilots
A Canadian North plane at Qikiqtarjuaq Airport in Nunavut, Canada. Photo: F/O Sarah Bouzid (Canadian North)

As 2022 began, the pilots represented by the Canadian North and First Air Master Executive Councils (MECs) looked to the year ahead with optimism. Having successfully ratified a new collective agreement that took the pilots’ Joint Negotiating Committee more than three years to craft, the group was unified and looking toward the future.

With a new contract in place, the work of combining both MECs continued throughout 2022 as members of the Integrated Seniority List (ISL) Committee outlined a plan to prepare an ISL. With meetings set for the beginning of the year, the committee expected to reach an agreement early on. Unfortunately, an agreement wasn’t reached as quickly as expected, resulting in committee members agreeing to meet with a mediator in the spring.

The spring meetings proved to be challenging. After five days of in-person meetings, the parties agreed to work behind the scenes while waiting for newly scheduled sessions to take place in June. With the ISL Committee concluding its second round of mediation in June, consensus wasn’t reached, but both the Canadian North and First Air pilots remained committed to continuing the ISL process. Unfortunately, due to mediator scheduling constraints, vacation, and the busy summer season, the next round of mediation wasn’t scheduled until September.

As work continued behind the scenes on the ISL, the Canadian North MEC also focused on implementing the new contract and dealing with the typical issues associated with day-to-day airline operations, including working with management to address pay errors, accounting errors regarding pension contributions, scheduling issues, and jumpseat agreements.

In August, an election took place to fill the vacancy in the Canadian North MEC vice chair position. F/O Ben Anderson was elected to the position while continuing his role as first officer representative.

By November, the group rounded the corner to the merger finish line when the ISL was finally presented to management. Upon acceptance, the decision and associated conditions and restrictions were shared with the pilots.

Once the list formally went into effect, it led to the last milestone of the merger process: the election of a newly combined MEC representing a unified pilot group.

However, with this milestone in view and after much thought and consideration, Capt. Bill Rodgers, the Canadian North MEC chair, announced that after six years he’d be stepping down from his captain representative role and wouldn’t be running for the newly created MEC chair position for the combined MEC.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Negotiating and ISL Committees for their time, hard work, and dedication in taking on such enormous and intricate tasks over the past three years,” said Rodgers. “It’s been a longer process than all of us first expected, and a pandemic that lasted well over two years right in the middle of our merger made it extra challenging. Yet throughout the pandemic, we stood together, had each other’s backs, and were able to keep everyone employed during some of the most unusual and challenging times our industry has ever faced. Our MEC supported our members to the best of our abilities just as our pilots supported and trusted us through some of our industry’s most dynamic times. For that, I’m thankful,” Rodgers remarked.

The Local Executive Council representatives gathered in Edmonton, Alb., on January 5 and elected Capt. Steven Bard MEC chair of the merged Canadian North Bradley pilot group. F/O Christopher Pye was elected vice chair, and Capt. Rheal Maillard was elected secretary-treasurer.

“I’m humbled and honoured to assume the position of chair,” said Bard. “Today, the new Canadian North Bradley is united. As your new union leaders, we’ll continue to work tirelessly to represent all of our pilots’ interests and speak with one voice.”