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June 23rd, 2022

NDP to Transport Minister: scrap program that gives bonuses for airport workers who don’t take sick time

OTTAWA – NDP Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach (Skeena–Bulkley Valley) is calling on the Minister of Transport to scrap the inappropriate CATSA Summer Attendance Incentive Program and instead pay all airport screening workers fairly.

Airport delays have left Canadians frustrated and without answers. The Liberal's failure to properly staff airports and ensure better working conditions is making the situation worse. But instead of paying workers fairly and hiring more staff to deal with the return of travel, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is offering workers a $200-per-week bonus if they don’t take vacations and sick leave over the summer.

“This bonus program is totally inappropriate. Making workers who take sick time ineligible for bonuses is essentially incentivizing workers to come to work sick. During a pandemic, there should be no financial cost for workers who stay home to protect their co-workers and those travelling to see loved ones. The Liberal government needs to scrap this program immediately and instead address screening officers’ serious concerns regarding pay and work conditions," said Bachrach.

Screening officers have begun labour action at airports across Canada because of low wages, missed breaks and excessive overtime. The Liberal government’s failure to address these concerns is now delaying their ability to fill vacant positions, as many workers laid off during the pandemic have moved on to better jobs.

“Canadians are right to be frustrated by the unacceptable delays at our airports. The surge in travel after restrictions were lifted was entirely predictable, yet the Liberals did nothing to prepare. That has left travelers facing frustrating delays and airport workers overstretched and underpaid. The Liberal government needs to act urgently, but the attendance bonus is the wrong approach," said Bachrach.

"Instead, the government should follow the lead of other jurisdictions, such as the Netherlands, by offering all screening officers a pay raise during this challenging period and addressing other concerns around work conditions. New Democrats will keep pushing the Liberals to fix airport delays and supporting workers bearing the brunt of this situation," added Bachrach.