Ottawa, ON – The federal budget contained an important piece of information that was hidden deep within the 400 page document; the possibility of privatizing CATSA. It’s an issue that the IAMAW has lobbied on offering solutions that would ensure better services to the public as well as ensuring cost-efficiency.
The information contained in the budget was scarce, leaving much to speculation signaling the possibility of privatizing CATSA should the Liberals win in October. Transport Minister’s comments have done away with speculation, as he confirmed that the government intends to begin looking at turning CATSA into a not-for profit, “independent” entity much like Nav Can. The Transport Minister, Marc Garneau commented that the rationale for privatizing CATSA stems from, “growing passenger volumes and with it, backlogs at airport security checkpoints [that] have spurred complaints — and calls for reform.”
Garneau also referred to ongoing consultations with stakeholders who have discussed different governance models for the agency. Welcoming the possibility of this change are CATSA’s CEO and President, and the President of the Canadian Airports Council, who admittedly have been working for years to reform CATSA. This move clearly indicates once again whose voices the Liberals are listening to and whose voices are being disregarded; those who are on the frontlines.
The IAMAW acknowledges that passenger volumes are expected to increase in the coming years, putting pressure on airports and airport workers. However, the solution from the union’s perspective is not privatization, as privatization of services increases the costs of services for the public, and erodes the quality of services. The move towards privatization will have a major impact on Canadian travelers, but it also leaves third party service providers in a precarious situation.
We have vehemently advocated for a different model, and ran an anti-privatization campaign to raise awareness of the ramifications of privatizing CATSA. The IAMAW urges the government to look at the funding structure of the agency that would enable CATSA to fund its operations. Privatization is simply not necessary.
Changes to CATSA and the full fruition of the proposed budget can only take place if the Liberals win in October, but we must take notice of the fact that the Liberals, much like the Conservatives are listening to the voices of CEOs and private interests. The Liberal Party’s platform was based on accountability and responsibility, yet privatizing CATSA will make the agency less accountable and transparent to tax payers and the flying public. Governments ought to protect citizen interests and safety, and in making CATSA an independent agency that is separate from government, that responsibility towards the public is relinquished.
The IAMAW is keeping a close watch on developments, and we will continue to advocate for a service that better serves the public, is cost-efficient and does not compromise the safety of Canadians.