Air Canada PlaneThe union representing flight attendants at Air Canada says the company’s decision to pay out lavish executive bonuses while lobbying for a bailout and laying off tens of thousands of workers is shameless and morally bankrupt.

“Paying out millions in executive bonuses while they kick their workers to the curb and ask the taxpayer to bail them out isn’t just wrong, it’s morally bankrupt,” said Mark Hancock, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “This company has been taking the federal government for a ride and it’s our members and the Canadian public who are paying the price. It’s long past time for Justin Trudeau to get a grip on this situation.”

It was revealed Monday that Air Canada’s top executives and managers had received $10 million of COVID-19-specific bonuses and special share purchase options in 2020, even as the company laid off tens of thousands of workers, denied them access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and then lobbied the federal government successfully for a $5.9 billion aid package.

“This has been a long and difficult year for our members, but this truly feels like we’re being kicked when we’re already down,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of CUPE. “Our employer turned their back on us, they refused to give us the lifeline the government offered through CEWS, and then they lined their own pockets. It’s just shameless. What makes it even worse is the federal government has just sat there and let it all happen.”

CUPE represents approximately 10,000 flight attendants at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge, the vast majority of whom have been laid off since the pandemic grounded most flights in March 2020.