The federal government’s Transportation Modernization Act is being pushed through parliament this week by the Liberal government despite serious concerns raised over changes to privacy, foreign ownership, and job loss.

The so-called Passenger’s Bill of Rights goes far beyond passenger rights. It introduces voice and video recorders into the cabin of trains, increases foreign ownership of Canadian airlines and will allow for private investment into Canada’s ports leading to further automation and job loss.

Locomotive Voice and Video Recorders (LVVR)

Unlike black boxes on airplanes that are only used by the Transportation Safety Board for post-accident investigations, Bill C-49 makes an exception to current privacy laws so that train operators can be under constant surveillance. In a move that drew fierce criticism from Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, the bill would allow inward facing voice and video recorders in the train cab which are accessible to company management.

Not only would LVVRs violate workers’ right to privacy – LVVRs do not provide any preventative measures to increase safety.

Foreign ownership

Bill C-49 proposes to lift caps placed on foreign ownership of Canadian airlines to allow up to 49 per cent of non-Canadians to hold voting interests and control. These changes will lead Canada into a race to the bottom, as increased foreign ownership of airlines has been shown around the world to increase precarity for workers, and weaken working conditions, labour standards, aircraft safety, and collective bargaining rights.

Efforts to reduce labour costs also mean reduced safety for both passengers and crew. This comes at a time when air passenger safety is already at risk in Canada, with passenger to flight attendant ratios are at an all-time high.

Automation of Canada’s ports

Bill C-49 also gives port authorities access to private funds through the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).

With several Canadian ports showing interest in automation, funding from the CIB to build highly automated ports would result in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs. CUPE is firmly opposed to the use of the CIB to gut Canadian jobs, increase private ownership of our ports, and devastate port communities.

CUPE represents approximately 23,000 members in the transportation sector, including workers in airlines, airports, ferries, port authorities, rail, roads and highways, as well as public and private transit systems.