By Caribbean News Global
TORONTO, Canada – Following the ban on discretionary travel between the US and Canada introduced in March with the latest extension set to expire on July 21, the two countries have agreed to keep their borders closed to non-essential travel until August 21; meantime, widespread layoffs at Pearson International Airport may have been unavoidable at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they expose the government of Canada’s lagging response to safeguard the future of the aviation industry, says Unifor.
The 512 layoffs announced July 14 by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) include 236 Unifor members working in terminal operations and administration. The employer blames revenue challenges from the COVID-19-related passenger volume decreases. These are the first layoffs at the GTAA since the pandemic began.
This follows, previous statements that “decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians for Canadians, says deputy prime minister aid Chrystia Freeland’s spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, in the statement. And medical advise that the US-Canada border should remain closed until next year unless “something miraculous” happens to lower COVID-19 rates south of the border, says infectious disease specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch.
“Canada’s airlines and airports are being left behind,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. ” Minister of Transport Joseph Jean-Pierre Marc Garneau agreed with us at our July 11 meeting that the sector is among the hardest hit, and likely will be among the last to recover, but we still don’t see any movement to protect the industry’s future.”
Unifor says that, among the countries representing the top 20 airlines, Canada is the only nation without an aviation-specific aid package. At a meeting on July 11, 2020, Unifor presented federal transportation minister Garneau with a policy paper containing several recommendations to preserve and support the industry where travel restrictions remain in place and lift travel restrictions where it is safe to do so.
“Health and safety should remain the top priority, and thanks to Canada’s strong safeguards during the pandemic, we’re now in a position to begin the return to travel discussion,” said Dias. “The aviation industry needs a government-led plan to weather the downturn. Government’s failure to plan is failing the whole aviation sector.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.