Manitoba, Air Canada in Talks

By Rabson, ByMia | Winnipeg Free Press, February 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

Manitoba, Air Canada in Talks


Rabson, ByMia, Winnipeg Free Press


OTTAWA -- The Manitoba government is in talks with Air Canada about the airplane maintenance jobs the province believes were illegally moved out of Winnipeg almost four years ago.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger told the Free Press Wednesday the province and Air Canada have been in negotiations for several weeks as tensions mounted amid concerns the province once again was getting left out in the cold in an aerospace deal involving the province of Quebec.

"We've been in discussions with Air Canada on jobs for Manitoba," he said.

The Quebec government announced Wednesday it has reached a deal with Air Canada to withdraw a lawsuit against the airline for violating the Air Canada Public Protection Act by removing maintenance jobs for the airline from Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga. The law requires the airline to maintain jobs in those cities, but in 2012, the company contracted to do that work went bankrupt, and Air Canada shipped the jobs out of the country.

A Quebec court agreed with the province, and that decision was upheld by a Quebec appeals court in November.

Air Canada filed leave to appeal to the Supreme Court Dec. 30.

However, that appeal will no longer be necessary since Quebec has agreed to discontinue the lawsuit in return for Air Canada agreeing to a 20-year maintenance contract in Quebec for new Bombardier planes. Air Canada announced Wednesday it will buy up to 75 of Bombardier's new CSeries planes.

In addition, Bombardier has agreed to build a centre of excellence for the revision and maintenance of the CSeries planes in Quebec.

The final paperwork on that agreement is still being hammered out, a spokesman for Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told the Free Press in an email.

Manitoba was an intervener in the Quebec lawsuit but elected not to file its own suit. Selinger said he has assurances from Air Canada Manitoba will be taken care of, as well.

Air Canada wouldn't confirm the negotiations Wednesday.

The airline still owns the two maintenance hangars it had in Winnipeg, but all the equipment was sold in 2012. The hangars currently sit empty.

More than 400 people were thrown out of work in Manitoba in March 2012, when Aveos Fleet Performance went bankrupt. Another 1,800 in Montreal and about 200 in Mississauga lost their jobs.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday he welcomed the end of the lawsuit and he intends to change the legislation to "avoid future litigation. …

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