The union representing 10,000 flight attendants at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge is calling on the federal government to improve the way it is assisting workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The union says the government needs to allow workers who were on parental leave, disability, workers compensation or previous mitigations due to the B737 grounding to qualify for better support. The union is also calling on the government to encourage companies like Air Canada to negotiate wage subsidy offerings in better faith with the unions representing affected workers.

The government-funded 75 per cent wage subsidy is presently based on pay received between January 1 and March 15, which will exclude many workers who would otherwise be back at work right now were it not for COVID-19.

“An untold number of our members who need help won’t be eligible for these benefits for no fault of their own,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “This policy discriminates against women for becoming mothers, and it discriminates against injured workers for getting hurt on the job, along with those that were assisting the company with mitigations due to the B737 crisis along with many others.”

Lesosky also called on Air Canada to follow the example set by Flair Airlines, a smaller Canadian carrier which is topping up the government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy to provide their laid-off workers their full wages. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Lesosky. “The government is funding this, they’re the ones in control. The government has the power to ensure this program is rolled out fairly – they should use it.”