March 17, 2020
Honorable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transportation House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario. K1A 0A6
Re: CATSA Transition
Dear Mr. Garneau,
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) is the bargaining agent for nearly 90% of screening officers across Canada, who work in major Canadian airports, such as Vancouver and Toronto Pearson Airport. Both airports are major hubs that connect Canada to the world. Screeners in Toronto Pearson Airport process 130,000 passengers on a daily basis without incidents or disruptions, and work very closely with the travelling public. Not only is the work of screening officers significant for the safety and security of domestic and international passengers, they are at the core of making airports function.
I am writing you today asking your help with a troubling issue with regards to our screening officers. CATSA, the regulating body for Airport screening, is not allowing the service providers to supply the proper personal protective equipment to our screening officers at all airports across Canada. CATSA has been referring to standards issued by Health Canada for the general public. The IAMAW believes that screening officers should be treated as front line employees and supplied with the appropriate personal protective equipment.
While the law is clear about the legal responsibility of employers to provide personal protective equipment, service providers are refuting that they are responsible for issuing personal protective equipment. Conversations with service providers have not yielded any results, with employers stating that provision of protective equipment is CATSA’s responsibility. The IAMAW is very concerned about the situation that has arisen, which is jeopardizing our member’s wellbeing.
This is a pressing issue with little time to act given the recent announcement of CBSA agents testing positive for COVID-19. We are asking, as a starting point, that the screening service providers be immediately mandated to provide the NIOSH N95 masks to front line screening officers. The N-95 mask is designed to protect against 95% of airborne particulates when tested against a 0.3 micron particle, and should be used at a minimum.
This issue is of national importance and must be dealt with in an expeditious manner given aggressive public health measures being undertaken to stem the spread of COVID-19. It is not just an obligation, CATSA also has a social responsibility to stem the spread of the virus.
I am therefore requesting a meeting, as soon as possible, to discuss the refusal of CATSA to protect the airport screeners of this country.
Thanks in advance for your consideration and assistance in this regard.
General Vice President Canada
IAMAW / AIMTA
18 Wynford Drive, Suite 310, Toronto, Ontario M3C 3S2
Telephone: 416.386.1789 Fax: 416.386.0210