Union poll rejects Canada flight crew cuts

Canadians do not want their safety jeopardized by cuts to flight attendant crews, says a poll released today by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The poll shows the public would reject a bid by the airline industry to allow certain flights with full passenger loads to fly with up to 25 per cent fewer flight attendants.

Most of those polled considered plans to cut cabin crews a compromise to passenger safety and security.

“The airlines say they wish to maintain competitiveness by cutting operating costs,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “But it is Transport Canada’s role - and its overriding responsibility - to ensure that the safety of passengers is never compromised. This study clearly shows that voters agree that safety must come first.”

Airline executives also say such changes would also bring Canada’s aviation regulations in line with those in the United States.

Current Transport Canada regulations require one flight attendant for every 40 passengers. The U.S. standard is one flight attendant for every 50 seats. However, Transport Canada’s own documents show that such a change would increase risk for passengers. Transport Canada has only released censored versions of these documents.


  The poll shows:
  - Seven in 10 Canadians want Ottawa to maintain current regulations;
  - Only 2 in 10 think Ottawa should match Canadian regulations with the
  - About 50 per cent strongly oppose lowering Canada’s safety standards to
    remain competitive internationally; and,
  - Just 9 per cent, or less than 1 in 10, strongly favour lowering safety

Transport Canada officials now support the cuts even though the federal regulator rejected a similar proposal in 2001 because of safety concerns.

“Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon now has a choice before him,” said Pam Sachs, President of CUPE’s Air Canada Component. “He can do what Canadians want by keeping the regulations in place, or he can weaken passenger safety.”

Pollara was commissioned by CUPE to survey 1,011 adults by telephone between May 31 and June 1, 2006. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.