REGINA -- The union representing air traffic controllers said layoff notices have been handed the entire staff of 10 controllers at the Regina Airport.

Last month, more than 100 air traffic controllers received layoff notices across Canada, according to a release from the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA).

It said the layoffs will affect service at four area control centres in Gander, Moncton, Montreal and Edmonton, and at air traffic control towers in St-Jean, Que., Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Regina, Fort McMurray, Prince George and Whitehorse.

“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,” CATCA President and CEO Doug Best said.

Nav Canada said it is considering whether controllers can by flight service specialists. They advise pilots of weather conditions and traffic in the area, but unlike controllers, do not coordinate what is going on.

Regina is one of seven cities in Canada being considered for permanent tower closure. Nav Canada is reviewing whether some airports are busy enough to require the service.

The issue was raised during Question Period in parliament this week.

Regina Lewvan MP Warren Steinley said he met with Nav Canada officials on Dec. 4 and was told the decision making process would take months.

“Why is it Regina airport employees received notice of lay-offs on Jan. 14 if this report is not even finished yet?” Steinley asked, during Question Period on Thursday.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra replied that the safety and security of the travelling public is his top priority and that of the government. He said Nav Canada has undertaken several studies to determine the level of service needed and that no decision has been made.

“It’s important to note that any changes in the level of service proposed by Nav Canada will be subjected to a rigorous safety assessment by Transport Canada,” Alghabra said.

The Transport Minister added that the process will involve a full consultation with stakeholders and that no compromise on safety will be taken.

Nav Canada says the lay-off notices could be rescinded, depending on the outcome of the review.

The CEOs of the affected airports have sent a joint letter to the federal Transport Minister, asking him to stop any plans to close airport control towers.

Regina is the largest of the cities facing possible tower closure.