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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, October 29, 2003




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.))
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gordon McFee (Acting Director General, Insurance Policy, Department of Human Resources Development)

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney (Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Collections Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency)

¹ 1550
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau (Director, Commercial and Business Aviation, Department of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk

¹ 1555
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee

º 1600
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Jim Gouk

º 1605
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise

º 1610
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         The Chair

º 1615
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

º 1620
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard (Director, CPP/EI Eligibility Division, Revenue Collections Directorate, Assessment and Collections Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency)
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair

º 1625
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.)
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.)
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman (President, Airline Division, Canadian Union of Public Employees)
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair

º 1630
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Gordon McFee

º 1635
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway

º 1640
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.)
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman

º 1645
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, PC)

º 1650
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Gordon McFee
V         Mr. Rex Barnes

º 1655
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise

» 1700
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Paul Rémillard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman

» 1705
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         The Chair

» 1710
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney

» 1715
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         Mr. Roderick Quiney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Terry Twentyman
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 040 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.)): Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), this is a study on the flight attendant employment insurance crisis. I welcome as witnesses, from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Mr. Quiney, deputy assistant commissioner, and Mr. Rémillard, director of the Eligibility Division, Revenue Collections Directorate; from the Department of Human Resources Development, Mr. McFee, acting director--Mr. McFee, welcome--and Ms. Wilkinson, acting director of policy and legislation--welcome--and from the Department of Transport we have Ms. Greene.

+-

    Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): Mr. Chair, we don't have Ms. Greene. She is at another committee and she will be here very shortly, but more importantly, we have her boss, Mr. Gaudreau.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Gaudreau, welcome.

    And more importantly still, we have the parliamentary secretary.

+-

    Mr. Marcel Proulx: You're too nice. Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: And we have the Canadian Union of Public Employees; we'll welcome them. We have Mr. Twentyman, president of the airline division, and Mr. Balnis, senior researcher.

    We're here today because we have an issue. I'm sure everybody is familiar with the problem, but just in case you're not, I've asked two of our colleagues to elaborate. Ms. Desjarlais raised this issue in June of last year and we thought it had been dealt with, but Mr. Gouk has brought it to our attention again. I understand that both of you have met in the last 24 hours to define the issue in some succinct terms.

    So who wants to take lead, Bev or Mr. Gouk? Mr. Gouk.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    The problem is rather straightforward. Flight attendants were always considered flight crew before. It may have been done incorrectly, but they were nonetheless considered to be flight crew, which resolved any potential problems for collecting EI. But when it turned out--or it was discovered--that they were in fact not flight crew, they were then treated as regular employees for the purposes of EI. Consequently, there's not a flight attendant in Canada who qualifies for full benefits of EI even though they're full-time workers.

    Certainly, from my perspective and, I believe, collectively as a committee, we have no interest in changing legislation or in doing anything like that. We're trying to find what we think is a fast solution to a problem that didn't exist when everybody thought they were flight crew and they were treated as flight crew. The reason we want everybody together is, whether it's through one department or another, we want to know how we can fix this in the simplest and quickest manner possible. As everyone is aware, the industry is in crisis and a lot of these people are suffering the results of this new interpretation right now.

    That's basically it, Joe. That's what we're looking for.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): I'll just add to that. This is a situation that arises in a number of industries in Canada, where in the process of doing a particular job, someone does not work a normal eight-hour shift, or the job is not as well defined as in other cases. We've seen special programs put in place through EI for fishermen and for people working in the forestry industry to recognize that the job is done differently. Therefore, there have to be special rules in place to ensure that people working in that industry can access employment insurance should it be necessary.

    I think the nature of the industry these flight attendants work in is part and parcel of why some of this has arisen. We might as well listen to the witnesses to hear what they have to say and then try to find out where the answer lies.

    It certainly was my understanding that this was something that was going to be dealt with. Transport, I got the impression, was accepting responsibility to do something within their regs, but now it appears it's just something that's being passed from one department to the other. I suggest that at the end of today, if we haven't resolved it, we give one of you a buck so you can just pass it around for the next couple of months. But that's going to be a buck more than any of those flight attendants have.

+-

    The Chair: Well, now, starting off on that foot....

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!.

+-

    The Chair: Is there anyone on this side who wants to make a comment?

    I'd like to hear the witnesses.

+-

    The Chair: I would too.

    Who's going to take the lead? Mr. McFee.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee (Acting Director General, Insurance Policy, Department of Human Resources Development): I would like to take the lead.

    I appeared before this committee in April this year, and this issue was raised then. I thought it would be useful just to take a couple of minutes to let you know what has happened in the meantime.

    With any kind of luck, I'll be able to lay the groundwork and present a scenario where you'll agree that the departments involved are working together to resolve the issue. I hope you'll agree at the end of the day that we're not passing the buck but that in fact we're joining hands with each other to try to resolve the issue.

    You may remember that when I testified before, I explained--in fact, the question was put to me--why we're in the situation we're in, so I'm not going to bore you by reciting all that again. I think the salient point to retain is that when the regulations were originally changed in 1997 and the switchover occurred from weeks to hours, the Government of Canada undertook to find solutions where it could for industries--as has already been said by one of the members of the committee--whose employees didn't work normal workweeks. Therefore, accommodations had to be made.

    One of the striking examples of that was in fact the airline industry, and the change that was made at the time was made in an attempt to recognize that fact. That was the change that imputed them to work 35 hours a week where, for safety reasons that were to be found in a federal-provincial statute, their full work week was less than 35 hours.

    The difficulty that arose, of course, was the fact that we in our department and our colleagues in CCRA discovered very late last year or early this year that in fact there was no federal-provincial statute that deemed flight attendants to be part of the flight crew. When we found that out, our first reaction was to see if there was some way to get around it, if you like, because that was not the result anyone wanted. It certainly was not the intention behind the regulation when it was first introduced, and it certainly didn't help anyone involved to have a situation like that.

    So we looked at a variety of ways within the EI legislation whereby we could overcome that, and as I think I said the last time I was here, the ways ranged from the mundane to the bizarre. One of my own suggestions was bizarre, and at the end of the day none of them could be done for a variety of reasons, which I'll not bore you with. But the bottom line for most of them was simply that, based on the wording in the legislation, we could not do those various things. We were stuck with a situation where we had to count the actual hours flight attendants worked rather than deem them to work 35 in a week.

    Now, the alternative we could have taken at the time, once we had become aware of this information, was that we could have gone back and readjudicated all the claims from flight attendants for the previous couple of years to bring them into line. We chose not to do that because we didn't think it was good public policy, based on the premise that if something had been felt to be the situation but wasn't, it was really no one's fault.

    So as I said, we looked for solutions but were unable to find any. At around the same time--and that's around the time I appeared before this committee--this committee was on the verge of writing its recommendations for the study on the airline industry crisis in general as it stood back then. Around the same time, we discovered that not only did we have the problem with the flight attendants, there were also problems Air Canada had with issuing its payroll information because of computer glitches and things like that.

    That resulted in us and our department having to find some way to count these people's hours in order to set up their claims in such a way that we would not have to come back after the fact and make them pay us back money. As I said at the committee in April, we allowed that situation to continue three or four months after we knew it wasn't kosher under the law, if you like. That was my decision, for better or for worse, because in that period of time we were desperately trying to find a way around it, trying to find a solution.

    If we had imputed them to have 35 hours, we would have put these people in a situation where in almost every case we would have had to come back when we got the actual information--which, I might add, ended up not being until the end of August or partway through September--and set up overpayments against all of them. What we did instead of that was to invoke an interim procedure that took the hours they reported and divided them in half, which we were quite confident would never result in an overpayment. It might in some cases result in an underpayment, and if that was the case, we'd give them the money when we had the actual records.

    That's one thing we did. Another thing we did in our department was to work very closely with the airline industry itself, particularly with Air Canada and with the union, to find ways to process flight attendants' claims as quickly and accurately as possible, because they were in a pretty desperate situation. As one of my colleagues said when we were here before, people in a situation like this don't want to have roadblocks in getting on with their lives. They want to be able to make choices. They want to be able to do things, retool themselves, or do whatever individuals in unfortunate situations like this have to do. If they're denied EI when they desperately need it and when they normally would expect to get it, that's a pretty big roadblock to put in front of someone. We were trying to avoid that happening, so we put a variety of interim procedures in place. I won't go through them all.

    In conjunction with CCRA--and I believe it was mentioned in this committee by one of the members, in fact--we also looked to see if there were ways we could give these people more hours than the hours they were being given up till then. The reason was that we were being given information such that we weren't counting all the hours they worked. We went to CCRA--I'm sure they'll talk about it in a second--and in conjunction with them and, once again, the employer and the union, we were able to find ways to include hours for ground time and some things like that we had not included before. That moved them closer to where they would have been before, but not all the way.

    However, at the end of the day, I have to say that our information is not that flight attendants are not qualifying for EI; the information we have is that this is simply not the case. As I implied when I was here the last time, we suspected the likely situation would be that they would have to work longer to qualify. Because most of them were full-time workers, they would get it, but as one of your members already intimated, they would get fewer weeks of benefits at the end of the day. In the former situation they would have had more hours imputed to them. If you'd calculated the number of weeks a person gets and you'd used that number of hours to do it, they would have had more hours.

    Some of them are getting one or two weeks of benefits less, if they draw the whole claim, than they would have received if we had imputed the 35 hours. I'm not trying to suggest there is no one in that situation; there are some people. But according to my information, at least, there are not terribly many.

    This is the final point I'd like to make, and I apologize because I have gone on a bit too long.

    A permanent resolution of something like this is obviously more desirable than a temporary solution, and I think everybody agrees with that. I know my colleagues in Transport Canada are now working towards a regulatory solution. They hope there will be a regulatory solution to this situation that will, to an extent, resolve the situation as much as one can. One commitment we have made in our department is that, depending on the results of our colleagues' work and CCRA's involvement as well, we will ensure that, if necessary, our regulations are amended in any way they might have to be to coincide with the results of the Transport Canada work.

    That's the message, as least as an opening remark, that I'd like to leave with you.

¹  +-(1545)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McFee.

    I don't think we want any questions for now. We just want statements from each of the participants. Members may have questions you want to pose to all three.

    Who would like to go next? You're a brave man, Mr. Quiney.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney (Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Collections Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency): Thank you, sir.

    I just wanted to say that as you know, as you've heard before, there are two parts to the exercise in terms of HRDC and CCRA. Our role in this is to determine the number of hours worked in a particular circumstance or in general. Our role in this is simply to determine the number of hours according to the regulations.

    I won't go through the whole background again, but we worked with the airlines, and I think we've copied the union on these exchanges as well.

    Where a worker is not paid on an hourly basis, we use section 10 of the Employment Insurance Regulations. Subsection 10(1) says that where a worker is not paid on an hourly basis but the employer provides evidence of the number of hours the worker actually worked and for which they were paid, the worker will be deemed to have worked that number of hours in insurable employment. What we've tried to do is look at the regulations, and subsection 10(1) is the particular one we have been looking at here.

    So, for example, in a situation where the employment contract indicates that the flight attendants are paid on an hourly basis, the number of insurable hours would be the hours worked and paid. Or, in a situation where the contract provides that payment is based on a credit system, which is the situation in most of these circumstances, the number of insurable hours will be the hours effectively worked and paid as stipulated in the employment contract. For example, if the employment contract says there's a credit for being on duty an hour before the flight and 15 minutes afterwards, those obviously would be hours worked and would be counted for employment insurance.

    What we have tried to do is work with the airlines. I think it's fair to say that as of last month, a number of them had managed to bring their payroll systems up to date to deal with what is obviously a more complicated calculation, capturing the maximum allowable number of hours consistent with the collective agreements. If you have questions, I can go into more detail about that, but basically we've tried to find a way to look at the contracts the airlines and union have and to capture the maximum number of hours that are consistent with those collective agreements, including all the duty hours they are essentially paid to work.

¹  +-(1550)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Quiney.

    Mr. Gaudreau.

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau (Director, Commercial and Business Aviation, Department of Transport): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for providing me with the opportunity to speak to you today to clarify the issue of flight attendant flight and duty time.

    I'd like to start by saying that Canadian Aviation Regulations, or CARs, as we call them, clearly define “flight crew member” and “flight attendant” separately. A flight crew member is assigned to act as pilot or flight engineer of an aircraft during flight time. A flight attendant is defined as a crew member other than a flight crew member who has been assigned duties to be performed in the interest of passengers in passenger-carrying aircraft. These two groups of employees have different responsibilities on board the aircraft, require specific training, use specific equipment, and are involved in two different work environments.

    There are many regulations written to specifically identify the responsibilities of each crew member separately, which is why they must remain separately defined in the regulations. Regulations for flight and duty time limitations for flight crew members took several years to develop and were first established in 1987 for the purposes of reducing fatigue and enhancing aviation safety. The majority of flight crew members were not covered by collective agreements, so there was some urgency in having regulations in place for them.

    Flight and duty times are governed by the Canada Labour Code and by collective agreements where these exist. Even though they were already covered by the code and those agreements, in 1995 the Moshansky commission of inquiry recommended that Transport Canada develop regulations that would limit flight and duty times for flight attendants. This recommendation was adopted, and the development of the regulations was turned over to a working group that included representatives from government, industry, and labour groups.

    The working group met several times between 1996 and 1998. However, due to diverging views and a failure to arrive at firm recommendations, the production of a final report has not been completed. More recently, other safety priorities post-September 11, 2001, have taken precedence. For those reasons, the working group was dissolved in September 2003.

    There is still a consultative mechanism, which I will describe in a moment. The department is now drafting a regulation to address flight and duty time limitations for flight attendants. A special purpose regulatory meeting is scheduled for February 25 and 26 in 2004 to discuss the draft regulation. Interested stakeholders from government, industry, and labour will be present at this meeting, much as they participated in the previous working group.

    Assuming that no serious objection or dissent is raised in the consultation process, the earliest possible time that regulations can be enacted is late 2004. These regulations will be developed for reasons of safety but may not limit flight attendants' hours of work in such a way as to satisfy the requirements of subsection 11(1) of the Employment Insurance Regulations.

    As part of its objective to harmonize with other regulatory authorities, Transport Canada is also considering the concept of a fatigue risk management system for flight attendants. This would be a non-prescriptive, company-specific approach to managing fatigue, one enabling operators to develop a tailored fatigue management system as part of their broader safety management system.

    Consultation is part of the development of all our Canadian Aviation Regulations, and our formal mechanism for consultation is the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council, or CARAC. CARAC is a joint undertaking of government and the aviation community, with participation from a large number of organizations outside Transport Canada representing the overall viewpoint of the aviation community. These include management and labour organizations representing operators, manufacturers, and professional associations.

    The CARAC process provides stakeholders consultation at an early stage so once implemented, regulations are better accepted. It is important to remember that Transport Canada's mandate is aviation safety, and the establishment of any regulations that will limit flight and duty times for flight attendants must be supported for reasons of safety.

    Thank you very much.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Gouk.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Thank you.

    I just have couple of quick points. The first thing I gather from this and from what I've heard today is that the short-term solution doesn't rest with Transport Canada. That puts us primarily back with HRDC, I think.

    One of the things that was said is that most people will still qualify, although it may make a week or two of difference. There is one case I know of where someone who qualified for 40 weeks under the old regulations now qualifies for 27. Thirteen weeks is pretty substantial. It may be an exception as opposed to the rule, but it exists nonetheless.

    It seems to me that we have the potential for a solution if we use subsection 10(1) of the EI regulations. One of the problems falls back to CCRA, which is why we wanted to have everybody in together. CCRA has had quite a bit of correspondence with Air Canada and Air Transat in which it has repeatedly instructed the airlines on what can and can't be reported as hours of work. It has also at times rejected various pieces of information entered on the ROE, plus it has made clear to Air Canada that there would be fines of $10,000 per ROE if any of the information provided there was not accurate, which tends to make Air Canada err on the extreme side of caution, I would assume.

    Given the situation we have, it's not so much safety that stops them from working longer hours, although it's a factor. It's that they're essentially paid the same way the pilots are paid, from engine start to engine stop, yet you can imagine how easily passengers would be getting on and off the plane if flight attendants didn't do anything until the engines started up. They wouldn't be prepared for the flight. I don't know who would get the cabin ready, get the passengers on and off, check credentials, or do anything else that's required nowadays. They're working during that time, and I don't think anybody denies that.

    Now, what worked before was this deeming of them to be flight crew, which Transport Canada says we can't do.

¹  +-(1555)  

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    The Chair: We can't do it?

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: They said we can't do it, no. We can come up with something different for flight attendants, but we cannot deem them as flight crew. It would be a major change and it has problems.

    Given that HRDC did accept them before as deemed to work 35 hours when everyone thought they were flight crew; given that they work under the same conditions; and given, I would suggest, that the EI commission has the power to do that under subsection 55(2) of the Employment Insurance Act, could they not then go back to what they were doing but, instead of using “we thought they were flight crew”, use subsection 55(2) of the act to resolve this problem, at least in the interim?

    You said before you were looking for an interim solution. Could we put that into place,? A Transport Canada solution a year from now is not going to do any good at all for the people having troubles now.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: Perhaps I could start the answer. To cut to the chase, why can't we go back to deeming the 35 hours...?

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Under a different regulation.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: Let me take it from two sides, if you don't mind, sir.

    First, we can't deem it 35 hours because we know this is not a fact, and we don't have the flexibility to do that, if you like. Second, we can't use section 55 of the EI act. That was the bizarre solution I was talking about a minute ago, the one I came up with almost a year ago. I was told by our legal advisors that it couldn't be done, and believe me, we had some interesting meetings before I accepted that legal opinion.

    I am not averse to going back and asking the question again. If this committee wants that to be done, it's not a problem. I am not averse to going back.

    Let me just say that I understand that some members of the union met with our minister yesterday morning. I understand as well that they were pleased with the meeting in the sense that they were pleased not with the situation they were in but at least with the service they were getting. They were also receptive to something she said at the meeting, a kind of thing that wasn't new for her to say, and that was that we would continue in our department to look at any options we could that might help the situation. You are not unaware, of course, that when ministers say that kind of thing, people like me hear it, so we will continue to do that.

    But I don't want you to be left with the impression that we didn't look at every solution we could look at before we changed the interpretation in April.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: The three of you are here together, though, and are able to cross-correlate whatever is necessary between HRDC and CCRA, income tax and reporting versus benefits under the EI program. Is there a solution we could look at now that would resolve the situation, if not permanently, at least temporarily until other things that are going to take longer to put into place get a chance to occur?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: In my department, at least, we could go back one more time and see whether there is something we could do to a regulation. So far the answer has been no. I'll undertake to go back and take a look and see, but I don't want to give you any false hope in that respect.

    I should point out that what happens to flight attendants because of this situation is that they get credit for every hour they work. If they work, for example, 38 hours in a week, they get credit for 38 hours. If they work 29 hours in a week, they get credit for 29 hours. That is the same treatment every other Canadian worker receives under EI. It's not that they're in a less advantageous situation, if I can put it in those terms, compared to where they were when they had the deeming provision in place, but they're not in a less advantageous position as compared to all other Canadians.

    If the issue becomes whether or not people are limited to what the regulation now requires, limited to a certain number of hours of work in a week because of safety considerations...our understanding at the time of adoption of the regulations was that this was exactly what applied to these people. I'm now beginning to hear it may not be what applies to them. It's a tough issue, sir.

º  +-(1600)  

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Given that a legal opinion is just that, which is why we have an adversarial system in our courts, is it possible for you to table with this committee the legal opinion you had on section 55?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: I have had that question asked to me in different committees many times. I will check, but my understanding is that I'm not permitted to table it. I don't have it with me anyway, but I don't believe I can. I don't believe legal opinions of the Department of Justice are given to committees of the House of Commons; that's my experience, at least. It's not for me to say no, but it is more proper that I check it out beforehand.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: So basically, you're telling me that at this point in time you don't see any solution other than trying to fill in a few gaps here and there.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: I don't want to sound offensive, but we think we've done more than fill in a few gaps.

    I know you have the situation you just mentioned yourself, where someone is losing quite a few weeks of benefits, and that's an unfortunate situation. All I can tell you is, the information I have is that in most cases flight attendants are qualifying for EI. At least they're getting into EI.

    One hopes that when someone applies for employment insurance benefits, they don't say, I can get 29 weeks of employment insurance benefits, so I'm going to sit back and get them. One hopes, of course, and expects that they--and most Canadians do, in fact--try to make adjustments, that they say to themselves, what are the chances of going back to my previous job? What should I do to help myself? What can the government do to help me, the other part of HRDC, for example?

    The first critical thing is that people get in the door. As I said, the information we have is that they are getting in the door.

    Suppose, however, someone draws their entire claim and we count actual hours versus imputed hours for people who work less than 35 hours in a week. Then at the end of the day, every time there's a difference of 35, I think, they will lose one week of benefits. It's not a constant; it's not linear.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: In terms, though, of qualifying in the first place, you have to have a certain minimum number of hours. Is that right?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: That's correct, sir.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: What is that?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: It varies across the country. It depends on the unemployment rate in the economic region where the person is.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Pick any region just so we have a number in mind. Ontario.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: As one example in Ontario, say in the Toronto area, you probably need 700 hours to get in. In parts of Newfoundland and the other Atlantic provinces you can get in with 420.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: So it's 700 hours to get in, and you're saying these people are still getting in. The only thing is that they may in fact have to work more days than someone else would in order to eventually get to the 700-hour point, after which point they're in anyway.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: No. Once again, I'm sorry if I sound like I'm splitting hairs. They don't have to work more hours than anyone else would. They have to work more hours than they would have had to work themselves previously. But don't forget that before, if they worked 23 hours in a week and that was a full week for them, we gave them 35. Now if they work 23 hours in a week and that's a full week for them, we give them 23. That's the difference. It's unless they can show more. And if they get more than 35 hours, they get credit for that as well.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: That's of course where we're coming into problems, though. It seems your department is trying to do as good a job as you can, but CCRA is having some concern about the way the hours are reported on the ROEs. You're saying some things can be included, but for some things, things the airlines were prepared to include and feel should be included, you're saying no, you can't include those.

    At the same time, we have a stick over our heads that says if you report wrongly, you're subject to pretty significant fines. Does that have potential for problems? You're essentially saying you'll accept what's reported from the airlines, but CCRA is saying, we're not going to allow the airlines to report all the things they had been putting on the ROEs.

º  +-(1605)  

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    Mr. Roderick Quiney: If I may, what we've said to them is that we've tried to find ways to maximize the hours as described in the contract. As I said before, it's not just a question of the time from doors closed to doors open on the aircraft; it's whatever the contract says. For example, if they're paid under the contract or if they're required to be on duty and working but not necessarily even paid, required to be on duty for an hour before and 15 minutes after, that gets included. I think we have worked with all the airlines that have asked us to try to find a way to make sure we have been as generous as possible within the constraints of the contract.

    Now, there are some things that are not in the contract, perhaps, and are not covered as working hours, in which case they couldn't be included. That would be the same for any other employee in Canada. Essentially, they're covered by the same rules as any other employee in Canada. Whatever working hours they work or are required to be there--for example, being on call is one of the things--and for which they are paid, they would get those hours.

    We went through a long list with Air Canada, I think, discussing backwards and forwards whether or not particular types of hours could be included or not. If I recall, the majority of the hours in the contract, all the hours they were required to work and for which were paid in some way or another, are covered or included. We think we've gone as far as the regulations allow us to go.

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    The Chair: Mr. Laframboise.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will have questions for each of the witnesses, starting with Mr. Gaudreau.

    If I understand correctly, in September 2003, a committee was asked to review this because flight attendants were not deemed to be the same as pilots or flight engineers, therefore they were not required to limit their flight and duty time to 35 hours. For safety reasons, pilots and flight engineers cannot work more than 35 hours.

[English]

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: No, I think the requirements were based strictly on safety. Before the regulations came out, the minister could not pass regulations for flight attendants or for mechanics; it was only for flight crew members. Since then things have been rectified, and now the minister may make regulations to include flight attendants, and that's what we're pursuing. The Aeronautics Act will be amended again very shortly, I hope, and will also include the ability to limit the duty times of maintenance workers; right now we're not able to.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: You are saying that, if all goes well, these regulations will come out at the end of 2004.

[English]

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: As to the process for federal regulations, the part VII technical committee, which I chair, will meet in February of 2004 . Now, with respect to the pilot flight and duty time regulations, it took many years to get them passed because there were very divergent views. We use a consultative process; that's how we make regulations, through consultation. We involve, like I said, a whole bunch of stakeholders from the industry, the operators and the unions. They all sit there and they have very divergent views. If everything works out very well, we can probably have it by the end of 2004. Chances are there'll be divergent views and there will be dissent on the regulations.

    I could get into the process we'll follow and why it may take a little longer than that if you'd like me to.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: The fact still remains: all this has to be reviewed for safety reasons. You are considering whether flight attendants should be deemed to be the same as pilots. They are flight crew members and, for safety reasons, they must be held to the same standards.

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: The sole reason Transport Canada develops regulations is safety.

[English]

    When it comes to the pilots...we cannot group flight attendants as being flight crew members because they have different functions. I don't want to tell you what the regulation is gong to be because that's up to the minister to decide, but chances are it will not be more restrictive than the pilot flight and duty time regulations and will probably be a little bit more lenient. Again, the process is going to determine that.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: What is happening here, however, is that once your department adopts regulations, other departments must take similar measures, because when people are not allowed to work more than a certain number of hours, their work must still be recognized. Pilots are deemed to work 35 hours a week. So automatically, they are entitled to something that other employees are no longer entitled to.

º  +-(1610)  

[English]

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Ça se peut bien. We developed the regulations for pilots. As a result, my colleagues in HRDC and CCRA were able to apply their regulations. We don't develop our regulations based on employment insurance considerations, we develop them based on safety considerations, and whatever rolls out of those regulations, the ability for somebody to collect employment insurance will be determined by my colleagues here in CCRA and HRDC.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: However, Mr. McFee, your department still recognized flight attendants for a number of years, starting in 1996. You recognized them until when?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: Until 1999 or 2000, maybe.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Until 2000?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: Until 2002. One thing must be mentioned. Our department made a commitment to our colleagues at Transport Canada to monitor this situation while the regulations are developed or action is taken so that, when their work is done, we can amended our regulations, if necessary, immediately and without further delay. In other words, we will work together so that, if changes are needed, they can be implemented immediately.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Except that, between 2002 and 2004 or 2005, flight attendants will no longer receive the coverage they had from 1996 to 2002. Correct?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: Right, they will no longer receive the coverage they had prior to 2002.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: With regard to subsection 55(2), you have a legal opinion that prevents you from maintaining the system in place prior to 2002. Is that correct?

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: What we did in the past was never based on section 55. I want that to be clear. It was based on a regulation stating that when, for safety reasons, people had to work fewer than 35 hours per week, which is a full week, they were deemed to have worked 35 hours. This is one situation, but—and this is key—there must be legislation, regulations or a federal-provincial statute on this. Near the end of 2002, we discovered that no such regulation or legislation, be it federal or provincial, exists. So, the regulation stipulating that these employees be deemed to have worked 35 hours cannot be applied in this situation.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: The events of September 11, which led to safety issues everywhere— People said that things were not safe enough and that new legislation was needed. We cannot take this to mean, for example, that to ensure national security, flight attendants should perhaps not work more hours. Ultimately, flight attendants are being told that, if they want benefits, they have to work more hours. However, Transport Canada is saying that their hours have to be limited. You mention fatigue management, for example, but ultimately it comes down to safety. Until this legislation is passed, HRDC is saying that, to receive benefits, these employees have to work more and accumulate more hours, contrary to safety standards, because they will have to manage their stress or fatigue. That is what you are saying, Mr. Gaudreau. Right? There must be standards.

[English]

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: It will be developed in regulations based on safety considerations. The flight crew members--the pilots--and the flight attendants will be affected by fatigue differently because they have two different sets of duties. Pilots are constantly up in the front, in the cockpit, they are constantly monitoring things or constantly doing things, and they are stuck in their seats. Flight attendants can walk around the cabin and do different things. So it's the fatigue itself and that's what we'll have to look at, how fast they will become fatigued and how fast it will become a safety requirement to give them some time off. The fatigue management system will look at that, and imposing specific duty times and flight time limitations for flight attendants will do that. We haven't gotten there yet, but that's where I hope to be by February 2004, when we'll have a lot more answers and can propose the regulations, which will be debated.

    As I said, I doubt very much--that's my expert opinion right now--that it will be more restrictive than for pilots. It will probably be more lenient than what the pilots have for flight and duty times, but again, I'm not going to circumvent the process. At the end of the day, it's the minister who will make the regulations .

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    We have to move on to Ms. Desjarlais.

º  +-(1615)  

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Thank you.

    Because I have limited time, Mr. Gaudreau, I'll ask if you could just answer quickly, has there ever been a temporary regulation?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: No.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: There's never been any kind of temporary regulation in transportation?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: No it's always been limited by the collective agreements from the airlines for--

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: No, I'm asking you, in transport, has there ever been a temporary regulation put in place?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: For flight attendants?

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: For anybody. In the field of transport, has there every been a temporary regulation?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: The answer is yes.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Good.

    What's the fastest you've ever seen a regulation pass through?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I think the fastest I've ever seen anything was because of September 11; it was for the reinforcement of cockpit doors, for example.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: So it is possible to move regulations through quickly.

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Yes, when it comes to safety.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Now, if you saw half of your pay cut, wouldn't you want a regulation to move really quickly?

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I'm very sympathetic to the plight of the flight attendants.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I just wanted a yes or no.

    Let's move along, because I think we're dealing with a couple of issues here.

    Initially, I thought it was just a misunderstanding as to how flight crew were perceived. I think all of us were shocked to see that flight attendants weren't considered part of flight crew, knowing how every chance that was given it was mentioned how they were part of the safety factor of the crew.

    They're the first responders any time there's an accident of any kind, first responders when they're dealing with passengers who get out of hand, and first responders dealing with numerous issues. Somehow they were expected to be alive when there was a crash and come in and take everybody off the plane. It was the flight attendants. So it was a little surprising to me to have them not considered flight crew, and that's just a statement on that.

    Moving right along, I'll observe that as we saw everything falling into place with HRDC and CCRA, it got that much worse. Quite frankly, from the perspective of HRDC and CCRA--and you can go hand in hand on this one--I was just appalled here today to listen to your comments. For the fishing and forestry industries there are numerous different ways of interpreting hours because it's recognized they are different kinds of industries. So for you to suggest that there are hours that shouldn't be considered, or to quote Mr. Quiney, “as any other employee in Canada” works.... Employees work a lot of different ways in Canada, quite frankly, and that's recognized, but for some reason there's been no effort to recognize the differing ways employees within the airline industry work, specifically flight attendants.

    Now, we have copies of letters where Air Canada said, we recognize these hours they're working; this is how we pay our flight attendants because we know they might fly for so many hours and then have to stop somewhere and stay there for a certain length of time, or they might be caught on the tarmac or caught in the airport; this is the way we do their pay; we use credit hours. Almost every airline in Canada--if I'm up to snuff on this--does the same thing. WestJet may have done it a bit differently at one time, but even WestJet has gone into the credit hours.

    So using the credit hours, let's say an airline credited a couple of hours for one.... And you made the comment that what you did was, you just decided to do it a certain way because you didn't want anybody to lose out. I even wrote down here “Be still, my heart.” You didn't want anybody to lose out and have to pay money back, so you just cut their hours, knowing that some might be underpaid but that certainly nobody would be overpaid and have to pay it back. It broke my heart, I'm telling you; it was just a tear-jerker.

    But the bottom line is, how would you feel if you were a flight attendant, your employer recognized you had worked this many hours, and they were filling out your ROE and sending it in with this many hours? The employers, the airlines--we all know them--don't go out there and just hand out money for nothing; they don't hand out hours for nothing to these flight attendants. We've seen how Bob Milton and numerous others treat their employees. They don't hand it out for nothing.

    The airlines tell you that these are the credited hours they're using, and you say no, we don't accept that; we don't accept that those are the hours you're going to use; you can't use that kind of hour allocation. And if you're giving me the look because you don't think that's what is in some of these letters we have, that's not my understanding. You have said to the airlines no, you can't do it that way. Is that not correct? Did you say to the airlines, you can't do it that way?

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    Mr. Roderick Quiney: We may have said they can't do it that way, but I don't know what the letter says, so it's kind of difficult to respond. But I believe we've taken into account all the hours that are covered in the collective agreement, and that includes credit hours.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: But say you don't have a collective agreement--because there could be some who don't have collective agreements--and an airline chooses to use credit hours. It says this employee works 1,870 hours a year and sends that in to you because they've credited that as the amount of hours the employee has worked. Say you get a figure where the employee has made $32,000 a year; I think that would be reasonable. Let's just say $32,000, okay? You've now decided, well, we don't think they worked 1,870 hours; we're going to cut that in half. So let's say the person now only worked 935 hours. Is that how this is being done?

º  +-(1620)  

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    Mr. Roderick Quiney: Yes. I think there's a timing issue here. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but when we talked about this back in April, the system in place assumed 35 hours, so HRDC had to react to the fact that it wasn't going to be a full 140 hours a month; it would be less. So the cutting in half was done on the 140, if I understand it correctly.

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    Mr. Gordon McFee: That's correct, and I might add, as I said when I made my opening remarks, it was done as an interim measure. The reason it was done was that there were problems issuing the payroll information on the part of the airline. When we went in to find out what the problems were, we found it was going to be a couple of months before they were resolved. Therefore, all they could issue from April on until, I believe, August or September were records of employment saying these individuals were working 35 hours a week, although the workers knew and we knew they weren't working 35 hours a week.

    We had two choices. We could accept the 35 hours a week, and then later on in August they'd give us the actual information, that it was only, say, 25 hours a week; then every one of those people would legally have had to pay us back money. Or we could do some kind of interim procedure to at least get them on claim so that wouldn't happen. The internal procedure was to simply take whatever they reported and divide it in half. The reason we did that was so we could get them on claim and get the real information from Air Canada before their claims ran out. Then we could make the correction and they wouldn't have to pay back overpayments.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Correct me if I'm wrong, but employees on EI have often filled out cards according to how many hours they've worked. They do that on a regular basis, and there isn't an investigation unless there's suspected fraud or something, so I'm kind of at a loss as to why there had to be this adamant cutting in half.

    However, the reason I keyed into the cutting in half of the hours was because I did find it strange it would just be done automatically for everybody. It's a pretty nasty way of going about doing things. But the understanding as well is, on the credited hours, CCRA is not accepting the way the airlines have credited the hours and is not allowing them to use the timeframe they're talking about.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: I don't believe that's so anywhere. We're happy to look at any particular case where you think that's true, but I really do not believe that's so.

    And just to finish the thought, I'll point out that we've been working with all the airlines to make sure we know the actual hours, including the credit hours, the hour before the flight and the 15 minutes afterwards. So we knew, for example, that--

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Do airlines credit any other hours, though?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: I don't know. You would have to look in the collective agreement.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: But you said you worked with the airlines to deal with the credit hours, and now you're talking about the hour before and some other time. I would assume you've dealt not just with Air Canada but with the airline industry. Do they credit other hours as well as time where employees were being paid?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: Each airline is different. Training, for example, is considered.

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard (Director, CPP/EI Eligibility Division, Revenue Collections Directorate, Assessment and Collections Branch, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency): If I might, I'll add to that. Where there was an issue--and it's one we dealt with--it was the standby hours. Now, unfortunately the standby hours are not paid. If flight attendants happen to be between flights and stay overnight in a city, those are standby hours. They're not paid; they're not remunerated; and consequently, as the administrator of the regulations, we cannot deem those to be hours worked and insurable.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Does the airline credit those hours?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: Not to my knowledge.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: Could I add, in any particular case, we're happy to--

+-

    The Chair: Somebody is saying no and somebody is saying yes. What's going on? Let's get the answer.

    What was the question, Ms. Desjarlais?

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Do airlines credit standby hours?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: For an hour to count, it has to be worked and remunerated.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I asked you if the airlines credited the hours, because I want to know if it's the airline not crediting them or if it's your decision that you don't want to acknowledge it.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Our decision is based on the legislation, which says we count the actual hours people work.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Well, if an airline is crediting hours for someone working them and building them into their wage scale, I consider them hours worked.

+-

    The Chair: So the dispute here, if I may try to bring it into some focus, is that the airline is crediting the hours on standby and you folks don't feel those are hours worked.

    Mr. Quiney.

º  +-(1625)  

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: It depends. The legislation says it's for hours remunerated and worked.

+-

    The Chair: So it's an interpretation problem.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: It's a regulation.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.): I just want a point of clarification. I keep hearing the words “legislation” and “regulation”. Are we talking about a problem of legislation--that is, statutory writing--or are we talking about a regulatory problem? Which is it?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: We're talking about regulations.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: So it's not a legislative problem.

    Thank you.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: The point I want to make, Mr. Chair, is that it's not the airlines that are saying this. Now, we're all members of Parliament. It's like where a lot of the public out there thinks we only work the days we're in the House of Commons and that we don't do any other work. We all know different, right? We get paid because of a lot of things we do in our job, but it's not all out there and straightforward--and we don't get EI benefits.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: We all know there are a lot of employees out there who only work so many hours. Because of the work they do and because they might have to spend extra time at home during work, their employer builds that into their pay scale, because they do work in that period of time the same way workers do in the forestry industry or the fishing industry. This acknowledges that you might go out for a catch at five in the morning, you might get back at noon, some might get back at eight, and you only make so much, so they build in certain hours based on the nature of it. Even if you're sitting in your boat and never get any fish, they still consider the fact that you were fishing, and they build the hours into the payout.

    The airlines, recognizing the uniqueness of their industry, build in credit hours. They credit so many hours and they pay a sum out to their employees. It makes it look like employees are making $34 an hour because of the actual time they're on the flight, but the airlines, being the good airlines they are, recognize that the employees are putting in all this extra time.

    You know who isn't recognizing those hours—

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: That's your view. Ask them the question.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: --it's CCRA and Human Resources Development Canada. I'm just appalled. I'd hoped they weren't going to tell me this today.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: If those hours were included in the calculation of pay, they would be included for EI.

    But honestly, if there's any problem, we'll be happy to look at any case tomorrow. That's what we do, we look at cases, and either an employer or an employee can send us a case to look at and we'll make a decision. It's very difficult to tell based on--

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Cannis.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Let me just compliment you, Mr. Chairman. This is one of the best kinds of session, having the various departments here to kind of sort this thing out.

    I have a few questions. The standby hours are not credited, am I correct? They're not credited as working hours. They're between cities, for example.

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: From our perspective, they're not paid.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: They're not paid. I overheard there was a minimum wage. I thought that's what I picked up.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Yes. Even if you sit at home on call for an entire month and you don't fly, you're still paid a minimum monthly salary, but we're saying you get zero credit for EI.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: So we can conclude that's in essence earning some kind of salary. But as I understand it, when a crew goes from city A to city B and there's an overnight stay, they get their hotel paid, for example, and their per diem for food.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman (President, Airline Division, Canadian Union of Public Employees): Yes, you get your hotel and a per diem. However, there could be a credit, depending on how long your stay is. Now, I could go away for a three-day trip and get a 12-hour credit for the three days. If I'm away from home for 70-odd hours, I get 12 hours in credit.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: So in essence, those 12 hours would be credited as work hours, to a degree.

    A Voice: But they're not being counted.

    A Voice: It's being counted as 12 hours.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Can we clarify that, Mr. Chairman? Is it or is it not being counted, because I heard two different—

+-

    The Chair: Answer the question.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: I believe it's being counted as 12 hours. If it's paid as 12 hours, it's calculated as 12 hours.

+-

    The Chair: That's regardless of whether they've been there 72 hours.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: We've heard from Transport Canada that they've brought forward regulations with respect to safety purposes. That's what we did with the trucking industry, for example, and it had to do with safety.

    But I heard from HRDC--and I'm very glad I heard about this--you are in essence applying this based on the contract agreement between the employee and the employer. Am I correct?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: Yes.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: So in essence here, if I'm a flight attendant and I approach airline A, I know the terms and conditions of my employment.

    I heard a reference to letters, Bev. For clarification, are these letters from attendants, or who are they from?

+-

    The Chair: Let's just keep asking questions to the witnesses.

º  +-(1630)  

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: So from HRDC's point of view, you're applying your regulations based on the contract that was signed between the employee and the employer, the collective bargaining agreement. Am I correct?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Yes, that's right.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: So, Mr. Chairman, where then lies the problem?

+-

    The Chair: I have no answers. Don't look at me.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: If I as a former employer meet my agreement with my employees, then my employees can't go to the Ministry of Labour, for example, and say that Mr. Cannis treated them unfairly, knowing very well that I have an agreement with them. I sense that this is what's happening here, that they feel they're now being unjustifiably treated, but did they know what they were signing before they took on the position?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Yes, I believe so. It's under the collective agreement, and everybody understands that when you go into a collective agreement, those are the terms and conditions.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Are they applying the terms and conditions based on the collective agreement?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: They are doing it literally. Actually, they're confusing the pay credit system with hours worked. That's the problem; it's the same with the railway and it's the same with the pilots. They just don't seem to grasp pay credits and hours worked.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    As I understand it, there are different interpretations; what the union is saying is not what HRDC and CCRA are saying. You're reading it one way and they're reading it a different way.

+-

    The Chair: Is that a summary, Mr. Cannis?

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: That's it, Mr. Chairman.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Gallaway.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: I'm not going to get into the interpretation of hours worked or what's imputed or deemed. However, I want to get into the history of this. I think Mr. McFee or one of you said that this is a regulatory problem; it's a matter of the interpretation of regulations. I think you said that, Mr. McFee. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: It's a matter of interpretation.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: And you also told us your department has a legal opinion we can't see, but it tells you you're right and they're wrong.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: No, I didn't say that, sir.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: You said you had a legal interpretation that says there is a bar to your giving this a more generous interpretation, if I could put it that way, so hours actually worked would be paid.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: I didn't say that either.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Tell us what you said, then.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: I'll try to be clearer this time.

    I said that we discovered there was no regulation that limited the hours of work of these individuals for safety reasons, as we thought there was. Once we discovered that, we could no longer apply the regulation that said they were deemed to work 35 hours in a week even if they worked less. That's what we found out. So since that regulation could no longer be applied to these people, we had to deal with the facts, which meant that we counted the actual hours they worked.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: How did you discover this in terms of your not being able to apply it, then? It was through a legal opinion. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: No, sir. If I'm not mistaken, it was through an appeal.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: You referred to the legal opinion--

+-

    The Chair: Can we have a little...? Just sit back; the witnesses, sit back. If you're at the table, you have to honour and respect the questioner and the answerer. Please, can we get that done?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Mr. McFee, you referred to a legal opinion. Tell us about that legal opinion.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Yes, but may I just make one introductory point?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: But no. Tell us about the legal opinion.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: The chronology is backwards here. The legal opinion happened afterwards.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Yes, I understand that.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: The legal opinion was on one of the options we were trying to use to restore the situation to what it had been before we discovered the regulation didn't apply. The legal opinion simply said that option was not doable; that's all it said.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: And your department has seen that but no one else has. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Yes. That's the normal procedure as far as I'm aware, sir.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Now, you've all talked about the need for a regulation. What I really want to know, then, is this: to implement a corrective or better regulation, who has carriage in the creation of that? Is it Transport, HRDC, or CCRA?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Of course, this is a moment when all the officials look at each other and hope somebody else answers the question.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

º  +-(1635)  

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Again, I'll jump in and tell you that the regulations we do are strictly based on safety.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: That isn't the question. The question is, who has carriage?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: To develop a regulation?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: If it's about developing a flight and duty time regulation for flight attendants, it is Transport Canada that will develop that regulation.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Now, you've made great emphasis that this is all about safety.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: It is, yes.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: And, sir, you talked about regulations that are based on science, regulations that will be debated. You talked a lot about consultations. Tell me, what's a consultation?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I hope we're having one here today.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: This is a parliamentary hearing. What is a consultation?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Well, we do regulations by a consultative process at Transport Canada, and we take great pride in that.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: I asked you, what is a consultation? I didn't ask you if you did them; you told us you did.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: A consultation is hearing the points of view of different people.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Now, you think this is a consultation here today. Do you have a record of your consultations? Do you have a transcript?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: When we have the technical committee meetings, we do have a record of it, yes.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: And who does the debating? You said that these will be debated, that these regulations you do at Transport Canada are debated.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Yes. All the stakeholders will have a voice in debating the regulations.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Do you engage in a forum, or how does it work?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Well, there are some people sitting in this room who are present during these consultative processes. We draft a regulation, we present it, and then people comment on it.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: I'd like to know this, then. I've heard these two gentlemen say and I've heard you say there was this gap in time. We went into this regulatory black hole while you were on the road to creating or drawing up a regulation, and it appeared, if my recollection is correct, between 1996 and 1998. You had one of these consultative committees going, but then it came to a screeching halt. In fact, between 1998 and 2003 that committee never met. Why?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Again, as I explained, it's because there was a working group that was formed for the consultations in order to see if we could progress, but no strong recommendations came forward out of that working group. They couldn't reach a consensus on where to go. After that happened, we had other priorities, such as September 11, and--

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: But that was in 2001. What about from 1998 to 2001? You never met.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Again, you're quite right, and it was just because of the fact that we could not reach consensus.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Now, would that involve the representatives of these other two departments?

+-

    The Chair: Roger, if they never met, how could they say they didn't reach consensus?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Well, I think I can conclude.

    I want to know, Mr. Gaudreau, would this nebulous committee that rarely met involve representatives of CCRA and HRDC?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Our processes are open to everybody. Do you mean for the actual drafting of the regulation?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: It's not open. That's a rather blanket statement, and it's not correct.

    Answer the question. Would it involve representatives from those two departments?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: For the drafting of the regulation?

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Chances are, not.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Chances are, not. So these gentlemen are being caught in a legal pincer, if I can call it that, because of the inaction of Transport Canada. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I disagree with that.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: All right, tell me why you disagree.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Again, it's because our regulations are based on safety and safety alone. That's our consideration, and employment insurance has nothing to do with safety.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: But it has a very direct effect, apparently, because--if I could just conclude, Mr. Chairman--we have learned that you represent the department that has carriage in this matter of regulatory creation. We've also learned that these gentlemen here represent departments that interpret what you create. In fact, your focus on safety would then mean that the hours of employment and other matters directly related to a large number of working people are of neither consequence nor concern to Transport Canada.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: No, I'm very sympathetic to the plight--

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Sympathy. But we've heard Ms. Desjarlais. It's not a question of sympathy. We're now talking about rules created by regulation. We're not talking about consultations now. We're talking about regulatory regimes that have a direct impact on the lives of these people, so sympathy doesn't buy you much.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Well, I would beg to differ. Every department, every organization, has their own regulations. HRDC has this one.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: We understand that, but this is about a regulation for which you're here as a representative of the department that has principal carriage. You are charged with doing this, and you have failed to do so.

º  +-(1640)  

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Again, I think we're mixing up what we're charged with. We at Transport Canada are charged with developing regulations based on safety, and we are proceeding there. The collective agreements of all these flight attendants are much better than any regulation I could develop tomorrow; they will have much better working conditions than flight and duty times will give them.

    So any new regulation, although I can't tell you what it's going to be, may not limit flight attendant hours of work according to the requirements of subsection 11(1).

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gallaway.

    Mr. Keyes.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Thanks, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to the opposition for the bootleg. Usually we have to go in a different rotation.

    I've heard what my colleague, Roger, has addressed concerning safety, but I'm trying to think of it in practical terms. What I'm hearing from Michel is that he's in charge of a department that has the responsibility to create regulations based on safety. For example, Transport is charged with ensuring that if flight attendants are going to be on an aircraft, they're alert and rested, they haven't worked too many hours, they haven't been in the air too long, etc. That is their concern, and that's the basis upon which that regulation is adopted.

    And then, of course, if a flight attendant says, I've worked so many hours and I'm entitled to so much money on EI if I'm laid off, then it becomes the responsibility of HRDC and CCRA to carry through with their regulations. So really, I'm sort of taking Transport and putting it to the side because first, they're not a player, and second, they formulate their regulations without concern for how much money flight attendants are going to get if they'e not employed. That's not their concern, so I'm separating them out, with all due respect to Mr. Gallaway. Transport is out for me.

    Now I want to focus on CCRA and HRDC, and I'm not clear on this. Roderick, do you have any regulation that pertains to this?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: We interpret HRDC's regulation. Our job is to make rulings. We apply the regulation, and we have number of regulations--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: The regulation you're speaking of is whose regulation?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: It's HRDC's.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: So again, Transport is out of the loop here; I don't want to get into Transport.

    Mr. Gaudreau, thanks for coming. You can go.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: So we're dealing here with an HRDC regulation.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: If I may, though, HRDC's regulations reflect certain industrial situations, one of which is--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Yes, but in this particular case it's the contractual obligation, not the safety obligation.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: Could I just give you a very short chronology?

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Please do.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: In 1996 both departments thought there was going to be a regulation limiting hours. We applied subsection 11(1) of HRDC's EI regulations on that basis, but in error. We applied it in error until we had an appeal from a flight attendant who wanted more than 35 hours. When we actually looked at that in 2002, we found that there was no regulation. We could not apply subsection 11(1) of the regulations because there was no safety requirement; we had to go with subsection 10(1) of the regulations, which deals with the number of hours worked or paid.

    So that was our interpretation, Joe. We looked at which regulation applied, decided it was subsection 10(1), and then looked at how many hours we should count. And as I said before, we tried to include all the hours that were applicable. We've tried to work with the airlines to do that, and under the credit system, for example, the insurable hours are the hours effectively worked and paid, as stipulated in the contract. That's why we keep coming back to the contract.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Therein lies the dispute: the hours effectively worked. Now we have to have definitions of “effectively” and “effectively worked”, obviously. For example, if a flight attendant is on standby, collecting a wage and being remunerated for the work they're effectively doing, then that should figure into the process.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: And I believe it does.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Terry, you're telling me that it does not.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Yes.

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Why do you say it does not if they say it does? Give me your reason why it does not. Can we do one as an example?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Yes; there are training credits, for example. When we go for training, we're paid a four-hour credit but we're there for eight hours. There's the vacation credit. Most people across the country get eight hours' credit per day for a vacation day; we get two hours and 55 minutes per day. That's the credit system, and this is where we're getting dinged.

    When you're on a reserve day, you don't fly but you're still on call. You have your pager, you have your cell phone, and you could be called out on an hour's notice. They don't give us any credit for that, yet we're still getting--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Let me get this straight from CCRA. Are you giving credit to them for that?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: That is something I'm going to want to look at. I don't know if they only get four hours' credit if they're there for eight hours. If they're training and paid for eight hours, they will get eight hours.

+-

    The Chair: Why would we dispute what he says? Geez, he's there, he gets paid by cheque, and he says four hours, and you say you dispute it. Do you want to look at it?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: No, no, no.

+-

    The Chair: We're trying to get to a resolution here today, for goodness' sake.

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: Most definitely not. I have no interest in cutting any of the hours.

+-

    The Chair: Somebody has to start believing somebody in this room.

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: I am sorry, sir, we are--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Order--I'm not in the chair--order!

    It's the caucus chair in me.

    Anyway, can I get a finished answer from you? Are you recognizing the additional hours they are on standby, yes or no?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: We will, we have to, and we do recognize the hours worked, whether that be in training or whatever--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: We know that, but we're talking about the hours Terry has.

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: --as long as they're remunerated. They have to be paid for the hours. We have no choice--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: We're talking about the hours Terry is talking about, the four hours they're getting paid for while being there for eight, that kind of thing. Are you giving them that difference? Are you calling it eight?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: I don't know of any particular case where somebody believes they are being disadvantaged because of that. If they apply for a ruling, we'll give them a ruling. It's not--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Hold on, guys.

    Terry, what's your response to that?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: I'm shocked. I mean, I'm....

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: I feel like a talk-show host.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: This seems to be the problem. They don't seem to understand the credit system, and I don't know how to get it across.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Mr. Chairman, at the very least we want CCRA in particular to give us an answer to a question they obviously don't have an answer for today, whether Terry is right when he says that they are not getting credit for the full eight hours but only for four and that the department or the CCRA representatives don't understand the credit system. If there's anything that comes out of this meeting today, it should be that. As a member of the committee, I want to see something in writing from CCRA explaining it to us.

    You'll have the minutes of this meeting, so you will be very clear on what the question is and what Terry is trying to say. Can we have a response from you on that?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: Absolutely. I think the best thing to do is to start by meeting and looking at the facts.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: What are you going to do?

+-

    Mr. Paul Rémillard: This is where I'm going to overrule my boss. We're not going to ask for a ruling. We'll meet. We'll look at the facts. We have no reason to want to cut the hours. We want to credit them with everything they're entitled to. If there's something we don't understand, by all means, we will look at it.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Let's make it clear what the definition of “entitled to” is. Then if it comes to someone saying, well, those are the rules and guess what, you're not entitled to those things under the rules, then you'll know in which direction you are headed, and that is an appeal.

    Thanks, Mr. Chairman.

    Is the meeting over?

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

    A voice: Open the doors.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Barnes, I want you to approach this line of questioning as if you were talking about the fishermen in Newfoundland so we can see what their benefits are.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, PC): If that's the case, Mr. Chair, we'll be here all day.

    One of the things we all heard today is that this is a very complex situation. At the same time, it's unique as well. The duties of airline pilots and flight attendants are basically similar in nature although their job descriptions are different. At the same time, they are unique in nature. It's no wonder we have a major surplus in the EI account with three departments each doing one thing while the others do something else, and it's just so confusing. It all comes down a lot of times, with all due respect, to the fact that CCRA has the final say on what are basically hours--which is actually amazing to a certain degree.

    I have several questions, and the first one I'll ask is with regard to HRDC. From my understanding of the EI act, subsection 55(2) states that if the commission considers it's not possible to apply the provisions of the regulations, it may authorize an alternative method of establishing how many insurable hours of employment a person has. Why can't this be acted on with regard to flight attendants? There is a discrepancy with regard to how we are going to do it.

º  +-(1650)  

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: I'm a little nervous trying to express a legal opinion to a committee of the House of Commons, but the bottom line is that if it is possible to make a determination--it may be that not everybody agrees with it, but if it's possible to make it--then you can't use subsection 55(2) because 55(2) assumes you can't make one, that it isn't possible to do it.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Yes, but we haven't made it.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: That's not my point. My point is in terms of us applying this stuff.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: I know that. There's been no consensus, and we haven't been able to apply it because this is a special circumstance. You should have a special circumstance like we do across the country for forestry workers, fisherman, and different groups when a situation is unique. It's a very complicated process.

    If you look at workers who are drawing EI, it's usually more simple across the scale, but you're in a complex situation. Because of safety reasons, airline attendants are required to do only certain hours. They have stopovers that are not counted for hours worked although they're away. They get back the next day, they work a flight here and another flight there, and before you know it, they've probably worked 72 hours. But they only get credited for 12 because that's their flying time between stops. Their stopovers are not counted, but the flight attendants are still actually on the job.

    Because of the unique situation, I almost think that there could be a special provision. If I'm right that it's regulatory and not legislative, then of course the power lies with CCRA or HRDC because it's their regulatory issue to say this and this are the way we're going to do it for airline attendants.

    Are you waiting for the interpretation from these fellows to determine if you're going to do it?

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: Well, one of the joys of working with CCRA--and I know they feel the same way about us---is that we always give the impression we're punting from one to the other. But there's a certain truth to that. In the rules that apply, all this stuff that came in back in 1971, the administrative authority to do the actual work on these issues was given to what was then Revenue Canada. The authority, if you like, to make the regulations and all that was given to us, HRDC.

    Now, the fact remains that this would be undoable if we simply invented regulations in isolation and asked these guys to apply them, so we don't do that. We work together on it. In the real world we have to. Otherwise, we couldn't make the thing work.

    Part of the problem of this whole issue is that at the end of the day--notwithstanding Mr. Twentyman's points, and I take them seriously--in terms of the hours people work, whatever we end up agreeing those actually are, we're counting the actual hours they work rather than pretending they work 35 even when they don't.

    Now, I don't mean I'm disagreeing with what he said; I don't mean that at all. But what we did before was, if the person's full week was a 25-hour week--and that's whether or not you included training and all the other stuff, so pretend everything was included and it was 25 hours--we still called it 35. They're the only people in the country who were treated like that, the only ones.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Yes, because they're unique; they're a bit different.

+-

    Mr. Gordon McFee: The reason they were treated like that, though, was because there was supposed to be a federal-provincial regulation or law that said, for safety reasons they had to work less than 35 hours. We found out there was no such regulation.

    We can't pretend they're in a situation they're not in. It's not proper for a bureaucrat to do that. I can't say to some of you, I'm going to pretend you work 35 hours even though I know you work 20. If the only reason I'm allowed to give the person 35 hours is for safety reasons but then I then know there is no safety rule in place at all, as a bureaucrat I can't do that. It frankly boils down to that.

    Now, in the real world what happens, of course--and I think I just heard some good signs to my right a second ago--is that if there's a disagreement or if there's a different way of looking at what ought to be counted, the only way to deal with that is for the parties to get together and see if they can work it through. That sounds very encouraging to me.

    By the way, we were already able to include some hours, as I said in my opening remarks. If now there were ways other things could be included or compensated for and all that, that would be a good thing.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: My understanding from my speaking to flight attendants is that in less than six months they have been put under three different EI regulations by CCRA. I won't say you fellows don't know what you're doing, but is it because you're tossing it back and forth between HRDC and yourselves?

º  +-(1655)  

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    Mr. Roderick Quiney: I think there were two regulations, and the bottom line on this was that we found out we had been wrong in assuming there was a safety regulation, and we could no longer apply that rule. We've gone from applying that rule, a standard 35-hour week, to measuring the actual hours for the contract, so there have been two regulations applied.

+-

    The Chair: I think we've had enough discussion. We've been here for an hour and a half now.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: The meeting is until 5:30, and I do have a couple of small questions.

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    The Chair: Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I just want to clarify a couple of things, because there are different sections of the legislation and different employment benefits that can be put into place. I first want to ask you whether or not subsection 10(2) could be used in this area. I just want to clarify this, and maybe it'll help you with the credit thing a little bit.

    This first came to me from a pregnant flight attendant who was worried she wasn't going to get coverage, and this is the explanation. The airlines, recognizing the uniqueness of their business, credit hours. When the 35 hours were in place, they used a certain amount of hours and made it, let's say, 75 hours a month, so it would work out that an airline attendant worked 900 hours a year. But given all the other things that happened in the course of that employee working 900 hours, even though it would show as 900 hours, they would be making $32,000 a year because of the credit hour system.

    I'm just giving you a rough thing to look at here.

    Now, if you work that out per hour, 900 hours and $32,000 a year, it works out to about $35 an hour. Does anybody here seriously believe the airlines are paying flight attendants $35 an hour? They're using that figure to allocate the hours that are unaccounted for because of this credit system they use. We need to acknowledge those extra hours, and if it has to be done under a special sanction because of what's happened here, then there are other options.

    I would hope that rather than look for ways to not give flight attendants the full benefit, you look for ways to give it to them, and there are ways of doing that.

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    The Chair: Is that a question or a statement?

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I did ask whether subsection 10(2) could be used.

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    The Chair: Mr. Laframboise.

    I understand, Mr. Clerk. I understand that he's next. He's pointing and waving his arms. I know who he is and that he wants to speak.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

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    The Chair: Mr. Laframboise.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Mr. Chair, my question is on that same subsection 10(2). It is important, because, under this subsection, if the employer has difficulty establishing the number of hours, the employer and the employees can reach an agreement, which the government can recognize.

    Therefore, why was subsection 10(2) not applied? Why not let them do this, since Mr. Rémillard stated earlier that you did not recognize some hours? Given that, until 2002, you applied different legislation, why not let the employers and employees establish the hours themselves? Subsection 10(2) allows them to do this.

    For safety reasons, I would not want flight attendants to think they have to work more to accumulate more hours and qualify for EI. This could pose a safety risk. We are asking flight attendants to be increasingly vigilant. They are the ones watching to see if anyone on the plane could endanger the lives of the other passengers.

    We are sending them the wrong message in telling them that it is the hours worked that count and that they will need to work longer hours. Given subsection 10(2) and your difficulty in reaching an agreement with this industry, why not let the employers and the employees establish the number of hours, which they would provide to you, so that you can recognize those hours?

»  +-(1700)  

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    Mr. Paul Rémillard:

    Once again, it is essential to recognize that we administer the legislation and regulations. We cannot decide what to do based on the circumstances. The legislation and the regulations have to be applied and interpreted in a uniform and equitable manner; we are trying to do this. We did examine subsection 10(2), but it contains a provision limiting its application solely to situations where it is absolutely impossible for the employer to determine the number of hours worked. The employer has advised us this was not a problem, that it knew exactly where its employees were and when, as well has how many hours they worked. As a result, recourse to subsection 10(2) was not possible.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Despite the fact that the employees say that they are not paid for all the hours they work. You will verify this, but should this prove true—

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    Mr. Paul Rémillard: We will check to see if our calculations are correct, if we agree and we will continue the discussions already underway. I repeat that subsection 10(2) of the regulations is clear: it applies if the employer is unable to determine the number of hours, and not necessarily if someone else disagrees with our determination. All the airlines we dealt with confirmed that they were able to determine the number of hours and that they knew exactly what their employees were doing and when.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Except that, according to our sources, you are rejecting the employer's figures.

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    Mr. Paul Rémillard: No, we are not rejecting the figures. As Mr. McFee explained at the start, an adjustment was made in order to establish the claims, which come under HRDC. It was an adjustment, but the figures are not being rejected. We worked closely with the employer, the airlines and the union, to a certain point, to try to understand and help them understand too, and to be able to say how the hours are calculated.

    Until 15 minutes ago, I was convinced that our calculations were being done the way they should be. Perhaps the end result is not right, but as I said earlier, as administrators, we have no choice but to be fair and equitable and to apply the regulations adopted.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: You are saying that it is clear in your mind how the hours work.

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    Mr. Paul Rémillard: As it is stands, yes.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    Now I will ask a question. Mr. Twentyman, you were involved in a dispute with your friend on your left about the hours you think you should be paid for. I would like you, if you could--and I won't hold you on the record to providing a comprehensive list--to please start listing the hours you think you should be credited for but that you are not presently being credited for by CCRA.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: There's the vacation time.

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    The Chair: Which is?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: I'm only talking about Air Canada's collective agreement because I know that one the best. We have five collective agreements under the airline division of CUPE. Air Canada employees get two hours and 55 minutes per day credit. With respect to a vacation day, sometimes you can get a zero credit because you could be bidding vacation period over some days off. You can get zero credit for that, or in other cases you get two hours and 55 minutes per day, depending on whether you are on reserve--

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    The Chair: So you go from zero to two and 55.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: No. If you are holding a schedule, for example, if you have enough seniority to hold a block and you bid for your vacation, your vacation could end up on that block with days off. They'll give you zero credit for those days. But if you're on reserve, you'll get two hours and 55 minutes per day.

    It's not an easy system.

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    The Chair: No, I understand that, but we have to get through it.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: The 35 hours per week worked just great.

»  +-(1705)  

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    The Chair: Carry on.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: There are sick days and training.

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    The Chair: What do you get for sick days; what do they allow you?

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: The sick days could depend on what that particular flight was worth. Say you had a credit of four hours for that day; it could be four hours, it could be six hours, or it could be 10 hours. That would come out of your sick bank. Again, that one fluctuates--or your sick day could be on a day off, and you'd get zero credit as well.

    Did I mention training days? I usually get a four-hour credit for a full eight-hour day.

    There's layover time. You could end up on a layover for two, three, or four days.

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    The Chair: What is the average layover time?

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: It could be from 12 hours to--

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Three days if you're in snow in Churchill.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

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    The Chair: Don't take the Churchill run.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: We try to stay away from that, but only in the wintertime.

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    The Chair: The layover varies from 12 to 24 hours?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: It could go up to three or four days, and you would get zero credit for that even though you are still away from home.

    Then there are people like me who are on union leave. I don't know what they would credit me for, a 10- or a 12-hour day.

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    The Chair: Do you get any credit at all?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Myself, I'm paid by CUPE, but my colleagues who are elected officials on flight release could get a credit, depending on what flights they're missing that particular day. They could get a zero credit, a four-hour credit, or an eight-hour credit; that's all over the map as well.

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    The Chair: Is there anything else? Would you like to consult with your colleagues to make sure we have everything?

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Did I mention reserve?

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    The Chair: What's the reserve?

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Reserve is when you're on call, and basically, we don't believe we're getting any credit at all for reserve. With reserve, again, you're on call for 24 hours. It could be a five-day stretch. You might be called and you might not be called. If you're called, you could get a credit for those days, but again, that changes.

+-

    The Chair: Is there anything else? Take your time. We have to have an accurate list here.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: The other thing is, we're basically paying full-time premiums, and at the end of the day we're getting part-time benefits--or have been since April 1.

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    The Chair: I just have one other question, then. How many people in the airline industry are affected by this?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Everybody. We have 9,500 members in the airline division of CUPE. Then there are the non-union ones, like WestJet; you have Skyservice, Jetsgo, smaller carriers like Bearfoot, and then there's Jazz, which--

+-

    The Chair: Bearskin.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Bearskin? What did I say?

    An hon. member: Bearfoot.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Another Freudian slip.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: And we have Jazz Airlines as well.

    A Voice: There's Comair.

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    Mr. Terry Twentyman: They're one of ours.

+-

    The Chair: Do you want to check with your colleagues just to make sure we have a comprehensive list of everything you're not being compensated for?

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Mr. Chair, I referred to a letter that wasn't available to the committee. I didn't realize everybody didn't have it.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: We have close to a thousand people on layoff status right now, and there are people who are falling off the EI rolls as we speak. They should be getting full-time benefits, 40-odd weeks, yet they're only getting 20 weeks of benefits, and some people aren't qualifying, period.

+-

    The Chair: Can this missed issue be resolved through consultation with CCRA? Would you need anybody else with you?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: If I'm all by myself, yes. There are four of them and one of me.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

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    The Chair: No, you have lots of help back there and some over here.

    What I've been able to ascertain--and I'm subject to hearing evidence like everybody else--is that Transport Canada deals only in safety regulations. Now, this is not a safety issue; it's an hourly issue and a pay issue. You are excused--

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: --but don't leave yet.

    As I understand it, HRDC approves a claim--I don't want to oversimplify this--but because of the close working relationship you folks have, you're going to work together very closely, HRDC and CCRA. You have to by the nature of what you're doing; HRDC isn't going to make a decision that's contrary to what you folks have to do.

    I think all three of the participants who are here today to answer these questions are sympathetic to the plight of these folks in front of them. You've just heard that they've paid full premiums yet they're not receiving full credit for the hours that have been worked. That's where the dispute lies, in the hours that have been worked and in the assessment of those hours. I think Mr. McFee and his group were sympathetic to the assertion that these people should be remunerated for the hours they actually worked.

    I think, coming back to Transport, that you're sympathetic to these people and that you're sorry you haven't been able to put the regulatory controls in place. Maybe this could have been avoided.

    Therefore, we're going to clear out of this room, and I'm going to suggest, with the concurrence of the committee, that your committee and Mr. Twentyman and his people try to come up with something on those areas we've just talked about. Where there's a dispute as to the hours you actually work, vacation time, sick days, training days, layover time, union leave, and on-call reserve, try to come up with a solution among you.

    If you're unable--and I don't want to force either side to come up with a solution, but if you're unable to come up with a final solution--at least isolate those areas where you can't come to a solution. Give me the areas where you can and give me the areas where you can't. Does everybody agree with that?

    We're going to leave the room and let the actors who know what they're talking about try to come up with a solution.

    Now you want to say something. What do you want to say?

»  +-(1710)  

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: First, I want to say, how come we come back to people on the opposition side but you don't come back to me, the official opposition? I was on the list.

+-

    The Chair: Do you want to play parliamentary diplomacy now, or what are we going to do?

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    The Chair: Or are you here to do the solution?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I want to try to put this into what I think is some perspective, and if these gentlemen think I'm wrong, then I would like them to tell me that.

    The regulations are primarily structured such that if you're paid an hourly rate, you come under one set of regulations. If you're paid some other way, you come under a different set of rules, section 55 of the EI act or subsection 10(2) of the regulations. Air Canada and other airline flight attendants are paid in part for the hours they work, and at other times they are required to perform work they don't get paid for but which is taken into consideration under the rate structure, which, I submit, is a form of something other than an hourly rate of pay. It's combined.

+-

    The Chair: I'm going to rule you out of order for this reason.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Why? Tell me what reason. I'm very curious.

+-

    The Chair: You're asking people who are not legally trained to come up with interpretations of regulations, which are legal documents. You're asking our gentlemen from the CCRA and you're asking Mr. McFee. I don't think either of them or anybody in the room has legal training.

    Do you have any legal training, Mr. Twentyman, or do you have anybody with you who has any legal training?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: No.

+-

    The Chair: I think the solution was that we're going to have some ladies and gentlemen who are actively involved in the dispute sit down and determine whether they can resolve the issue. What's wrong with that? All in favour--

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    Mr. John Cannis: On one condition, Mr. Chairman, if I may, because it has taken years and we don't want to take seven years more.

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    The Chair: No, we're moving out of this room and these folks are staying here.

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    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Are we tying the doors when we leave?

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    The Chair: No, but I'm going to be around and the committee is going to be around, waiting to see if the issue can't be resolved. We're going to be called.

    Thank you and goodbye.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: Sir, with all due respect, we can stay and talk, but we don't have all our experts here.

+-

    The Chair: We don't need experts. I just got through saying that--

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: For example, sir, we do not have the employers here, such as Air Canada. We would absolutely be prepared to sit down and talk with the union, but we'd like to get the right people in the room so we can do it as rapidly as possible. We promise to do that, and we'd be happy to talk to them now, but please don't lock the doors on us--

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

»  -(1715)  

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: --because I don't think we can resolve it tonight.

+-

    The Chair: No, I very much appreciate that, and I apologize to your colleague there for when you were arguing about four hours and eight hours and so on. When we can't even decide on that, we're in some difficulty.

    What do you suggest?

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: We'd like a short period of time. We would like time to talk to the union, and we need time to talk to the employers.

+-

    The Chair: Can the employer and the union not talk together? I think you're ad idem, are you not?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Yes, we'd meet with the employers, but the problem is that we have all these different employers with different contracts, and there are going to be all these different interpretations. It could be quite a bun toss.

+-

    The Chair: But your employer is Air Canada, is it not?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Yes.

+-

    The Chair: Is it not the leader in the industry on this issue?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: There's also Air Transat, which is heavily affected. We have First Air--

+-

    The Chair: How many employers do you need here?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: There are five under the airline division at CUPE, but whatever is decided here also affects other airlines.

+-

    The Chair: I'll leave it up to you to satisfy yourselves, because you represent them all.

    When will you meet this week--not next week, but this week?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: I can meet anytime.

    A voice: Likewise.

+-

    Mr. Roderick Quiney: We'll make time tomorrow.

    A voice: We'll make time tomorrow.

+-

    The Chair: Tomorrow? And can you bring your employers in?

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: I don't know if I can bring the employers in.

+-

    The Chair: Oh, yes. I'll convene a meeting the minute you want to report back to me, and I'll stay here this weekend. Is that fair enough? This has to be resolved.

+-

    Mr. Terry Twentyman: Perfect. I agree.

-

    The Chair: Thank you all for coming.

    The meeting is adjourned.