Budget cuts jeopardizing aviation security: NDP
As more people take off on summer vacation in the next couple of weeks, the NDP and public sector unions are sounding the alarm over the Harper government's budget cuts that they say are jeopardizing aviation safety.
They say the cuts have resulted in Transport Canada focussing more on ensuring airlines are complying with safety rules instead of inspecting aircraft.
Magali Picard, spokesperson for PSAC-Quebec, said Trudeau International Airport alone has lost 13 inspectors out of about 30 and that for the past couple of months, there've been no more physical inspections of planes. She added that starting in September, inspectors will no longer work at night, on weekends or on holidays.
"The (airline) companies are doing that by themselves and our people cannot go, they don't have the time to do it because there's not enough employees. And the government decided to do that, 'No, it's okay, the private sector is going to do it," Picard told a news conference.
PSAC-Quebec and the IAMAW machinists union pointed to the example of Air Canada which is now outsourcing plane maintenance abroad so they can't oversee what is actually done. Picard said another problem is that they are losing inspectors who are being lured to the private sector offering higher salaries.
NDP MP for NDG-Lachine Isabelle Morin cited reports of mechanical parts and tools falling out of airplanes, saying that she's concerned for her constituents living around the airport.
They're calling on the government to re-invest in the inspection process and to sit down with workers to discuss improving the system.
The federal transport minister meantime accused the NDP and the unions of fearmongering.
In an email statement sent by his press secretary, Denis Lebel insists they have not cut a single inspector and that the safety of the aviation system is a top priority.