Regina mayor joins others in efforts to save regional air traffic control towers
REGINA -- Regina Mayor Sandra Masters is one of six Canadian mayors who signed a letter to the federal government, to express concerns over Nav Canada layoffs that lead to the possible shutdown of air traffic control towers in seven Canadian cities.
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).
Layoffs at Nav Canada affected 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.
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.
LETTER TO THE MINISTER
A letter dated Feb. 8, addressed to the Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra was signed by Masters, Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, Fort McMurray Mayor Don Scott, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano.
The mayors state that this correspondence is a follow up to a letter sent by the CEOs of six airports impacted by the Nav Canada review. They unanimously believe that the outcome of the review was decided before it began.
The mayors cited a letter from Nav Canada sent to the impacted cities outlined its intended solution, without any consultation from the cities or airports involved.
“As a result of the significant impact for the global COVID-19 pandemic and the aviation industry generally and Nav Canada specifically, it is our intention to take the necessary steps to close the (Airport City) Tower and replace it with a flight service station,” Nav Canada said to the cities in the letter. “This means that we expect that your current position will be eliminated from the Company and you are being declared vulnerable effective January 14, 2021.”
The mayors mentioned that the airports involved were “assured a fair and transparent process” and were told Nav Canada would provide a report this spring, should they decide to “materially modify service” in any of the cities involved.
“We had been further assured that no pre-defined outcome prior to conducting meaningful stakeholder engagement, and that as this process ran its course action would only be taken if warranted but not before the full process was concluded, including concurrence from your office for any proposed changes,” the mayors stated in the letter.
In a statement, Nav Canada said its study is evaluating what level of service is appropriate at the affected airports.
“Changing a service level does not result in the closure or inaccessibility of the airport - flight service specialists give pilots all the information they need to safely land and depart the airport,” Brian Boudreau, the manager of media relations for Nav Canada, said.
“The study outcomes are not predetermined. Recommendations are only made following stakeholder consultations and a thorough, safety-focused assessment. The study outcome must receive concurrence from our safety regulator Transport Canada.”
Masters' letter makes the following request of Minister Alghabra:
- Advise Nav Canada that he will not approve the outcome of these reviews
- Encourage Nav Canada to discontinue their process review at these locations
The mayors went on to say their “confidence in the current process has been eroded.” They also point to the economic and social impacts of the potential loss of the control towers.
“The communities and geographical areas that we serve are unique from one another and vast, acting as everything from points of entry into our country, to emergency landing sites, to the transport hubs for industry and healthcare workers into our respective jurisdictions.”
Nav Canada says the lay-off notices could be rescinded, depending on the outcome of the review.
“Nav Canada has a duty to ensure Canada’s air navigation system is run safely, efficiently and cost-effectively. We must align our services with market demands, all while maintaining the highest level of safety,” Boudreau said.
Masters copied several Canadian leaders on the letter, including Jim Carr, Special Representative for the Prairies, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, B.C. Premier John Horgan, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.