Canada's Air Traffic Controllers Warn Of Safety Risks From NAV Canada Cuts

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Doug Best, President and CEO, CATCA.

The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA), the union representing the country’s air traffic controllers, is raising “serious public safety concerns” relating to anticipated air traffic control tower closures and service reductions as a result of an ongoing NAV Canada review. The union says it plans to raise this issue during a House of Commons Transport Committee scheduled 28JAN.

"We understand that NAV Canada has seen a significant decline in revenue due to the pandemic and it needs to find efficiencies, but we can't allow public safety to be compromised," said CATCA President and CEO Doug Best. "Air traffic control is known to be one of the most demanding and high-stress professions going. NAV Canada's cuts will only mount added pressure on the essential workers who keep our skies safe."

According to CATCA, more than 100 air traffic controllers received layoff notices last month, which will severely impact service at area control centres in Gander, Moncton, Montreal and Edmonton, and at seven air traffic control towers across the country. 

The union says NAV Canada reassured them that no decisions on layoffs would be made until the review was completed and approved by Transport Canada. Although this review is still ongoing, employees at all seven tower sites have already received letters from NAV Canada stating its intention to close the towers.

"These letters confirm that the outcome of the review was predetermined, and we're calling on Transport Canada to halt the process as a result of NAV Canada's failure to act reasonably and in good faith," said Best. 

"The federal government has publicly committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can drive our economic recovery when the pandemic subsides, but with NAV Canada's service cuts our air navigation system won't have the capacity to operate safely when traffic returns to normal."

Even before the pandemic, CATCA says Canada faced a 13 per cent shortfall of air traffic controllers. These workers racked up $100 million in overtime, and Transport Canada ordered NAV Canada to overhaul its Fatigue Management System as a result of safety concerns. 

If NAV Canada proceeds with its planned service level cuts, CATCA estimates the shortage of air traffic controllers will grow to 20 per cent by JUN 2021.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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