Quebec government criticized for abandoning Aveos workers
Published Thursday, February 18, 2016 2:56PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 18, 2016 4:15PM EST
The Quebec government is being criticized for dropping a lawsuit on behalf of aircraft maintenance workers.
The legal battle began in 2012 when ACE, the company that operates Air Canada, shut down its maintenance division, Aveos.
That was a violation of the legal obligations, agreed to when Air Canada was privatized in 1988, that Air Canada perform the majority of its maintenance in Montreal and Winnipeg.
The case went to court twice, with Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal ruling in favour of workers.
At the beginning of 2015 Air Canada made a final appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and this week the airline announced that the Quebec government had abandoned the legal battle.
That means Air Canada is free to do its maintenance wherever it wants, without any legal hindrance.
Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said the federal government was aware that Quebec had dropped the lawsuit.
"The end of the litigation between Quebec and Air Canada will enable the federal government to clarify this act in order to avoid further litigation," said Garneau.
News of the end of the lawsuit came on the same day that Air Canada agreed to buy 45 planes from Bombardier, with an option to buy up to 30 more.
The president and CEO of Air Canada, Calin Rovinescu, admits that Quebec's decision to drop the lawsuit helped seal the deal.
"It was an important ingredient but certainly not the determinant one," said Rovinescu.
Former employees say they feel cheated, abandoned by the government so Quebec-made Bombardier planes could be sold to Air Canada.
“What does the government do? [They say] ‘It's OK, it's OK, Air Canada’s buying our planes, it's good for us.’ But don't sacrifice us for that. That’s the problem,” said former Aveos worker Jean Poirier.
Air Canada has also agreed that the new planes will be maintained in Montreal starting in a decade.
CAQ Leader Francois Legault said Quebec abandoned the workers.
"It's a very, very bad deal. We're trading about 1,800 jobs for only a couple hundred jobs," he said.
Political analyst Jean Lapierre said the Quebec government threw Aveos workers under the bus.
"It's a total cop out on the part of the Quebec government. I remember when Jean-Marc Fournier was at a press conference with the union, with the former workers saying 'we're with you.' And what did they do yesterday? They didn't even have the [guts] to call them before dropping them," said Lapierre.
"I think it's a raw deal for the employees."
On Wednesday Bombardier announced it is slashing 7,000 jobs from its Canadian workforce, even while it is going to hire about hundreds of people in Costa Rica.
Last year the Caisse de Depot purchased $1.3 billion in shares in Bombardier Transportation, the holding company that controls the train division of Bombardier.