Dear Minister Garneau,
We know you would agree that compromising the health and safety of passengers and crew on Canada’s airlines is totally unacceptable. Unfortunately, Transport Canada is willing to gamble on the health and safety of passengers and crew.
On August 1st 2015, Transport Canada allowed Canadian carriers to operate with a ratio of one flight attendant to 50 passenger seats (1:50 ratio), even though Transport officials admitted that the safety level provided by the new ratio will never be equivalent to that of the previous one flight attendant to 40 passengers ratio (1:40 ratio). The 2003 risk assessment study of the 1:50 ratio conducted by Transport Canada was incomplete, biased, and veiled in secrecy.
I am deeply concerned about that change. Many aircraft have reduced crew, in some cases leaving exit doors uncovered. This will put passenger safety at risk, especially in the event of an evacuation or other emergency situations.
As you know, during the last federal election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada committed to consult “stakeholders and experts” on the ratio issue, “all the while keeping the safety of all Canadians as a top priority.”
If your government is not willing to scrap the 1:50 ratio immediately, it must at least respect this election promise.
Air quality on board of Canadian aircraft is also a concern for us.
If there is an engine malfunction, passengers and crew on most aircraft can be exposed to toxic fumes in the cabin.
Even if many airlines continue to deny it, there is significant evidence showing exposure to toxic fumes is a hazard and can lead to the following symptoms while on board: irritation of eyes, nose and upper airways, cough, breathing difficulties, tightness in chest, blurred or tunnel vision, headache or light headedness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and vomiting. Longer term effects include damage to the respiratory and central nervous system, impaired memory and cognitive function, weakened immunity, cardiovascular disorders and possibly cancers.
The only way to totally ensure that flight attendants and passengers are not being exposed to toxic fumes is to fit aircraft with filtration systems that eliminate any potential air contamination, or to actually change the way pressurized air is brought into the cabin when aircraft are designed. Transport Canada regulations should be changed accordingly in order to protect the health of passengers and crew.
During the last federal election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada also committed “to ensuring that all Canadians have a safe and healthy working environment through evidence-based measures and proper consultation with stakeholders and experts.”
Therefore, the federal government should immediately bring together representatives from the airline industry, the medical and scientific communities, and airline unions, to identify and recommend all possible regulatory options to eliminate the harmful effects of toxic fumes.
By signing this petition, we are requesting immediate and concrete governmental actions on these two important health and safety issues.