Air Canada-Bombardier deal sacrifices Aveos workers: opposition
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:08AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 24, 2016 7:44PM EST
The two larger opposition parties in the National Assembly are denouncing Quebec's support of Air Canada and Bombardier.
In a three-way deal, Air Canada announced last week it will buy up to 70 CSeries jets from Bombardier. In exchange the Quebec government dropped its legal challenge to force Air Canada to use maintenance workers based in Montreal.
Air Canada closed its maintenance division, Aveos, in 2012, despite federal regulations that required maintenance jobs remain in Canada as part of its privatization in 1988.
Now Parti Quebecois leader Pierre Karl Peladeau and Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault say Premier Philippe Couillard has dropped the ball.
The pair were joined in Quebec City by Jean Poirier, a former Aveos employee and union leader.
Legault said "the economy is not Philippe Couillard's strong suit," while Peladeau said that government bureaucrats were "pee wee negotiators."
"Right now we're talking about 1,800 people having good jobs at $35 an hour, so why don't we insist, why do we give this gift to Air Canada?" asked Legault.
But the minister responsible for the economy says the opposition is missing the bigger picture.
“What the government is trying to achieve is really to create an environment where we make sure that the 40,000 jobs that we have in the aerospace industry stay in Quebec and they grow. And it has to be aligned with Bombardier and it has to be aligned with the CSeries,” said Dominique Anglade.
Meanwhile, the union representing maintenance workers wants more details about the so-called "centre of excellence" that would be based in Quebec and where maintenance for the planes Air Canada bought is supposed to take place.
“In how long? How many jobs is it going to create? What guarantees do we have? From what I heard there's over 20-30 conditions,” saidspokesperson Dave Chartrand.
Last year the Caisse de Depot, under provincial urging, bought US$1 billion worth of shares in Bombardier's land transportation division in order to keep the company afloat.
Bombardier announced 7,000 layoffs last week, many of them in Montreal in its aerospace division.
Jean Poirier, former Aveos union representative responds to reporters questions at a news conference, Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at the legislature in Quebec City. Poirier is flanked by Quebec Second Opposition Leader Francois Legault, left, and Quebec Opposition Leader Pierre Karl Peladeau. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot