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37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, April 22, 2004




Á 1100
V         The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.))
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire (Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport)

Á 1105

Á 1110
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, CPC)

Á 1115
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

Á 1120
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss (Director General, Civil Aviation, Department of Transport)
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, CPC)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

Á 1125
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss

Á 1130
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich

Á 1135
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau (Director, Commercial and Business Aviation, Department of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.)
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair

Á 1140
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

Á 1145
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.)
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP)
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. Dick Proctor

Á 1150
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Dick Proctor
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Christian Jobin (Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Lib.)
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

Á 1155
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Jim Karygiannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Christian Jobin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire

 1200
V         Mr. Michel Gaudreau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marc Grégoire
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Merlin Preuss
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 009 
l
3rd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, April 22, 2004

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Á  +(1100)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.)): Welcome. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), this is a briefing session on regulations on flight attendant seat ratio. There's been interest from members on different issues, and this is one of them. My practice has been to invite people who are able to inform committee members on different issues, and that is what brings us here this morning.

    I just want to make it clear that this is an information session, not a meeting where we will be receiving motions or anything of that sort.

    I'm pleased to welcome, from the Department of Transport, the assistant deputy minister for the safety and security group, Marc Grégoire; the director general of civil aviation, Merlin Preuss; and the director of commercial and business aviation, Michel Gaudreau. Bonjour, bienvenue.

    There seems to be a concern in the industry that there are about to be major changes that will affect the lives of individuals, so we invite you to make a presentation. I suspect you will be asked how far we are in the process, what is the intent, and whether it is already a fait accompli. We need clarification on issues of that sort and, of course, any other issues members wish to ask about.

    I invite you to make your presentation.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire (Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport): Mr. Chair, thank you very much for providing me the opportunity to speak to you today to clarify the issue of flight attendant ratios.

    Current regulations require one flight attendant for every unit of 40 passengers, or portion thereof, on board an aircraft. The regulations permit certain eligible aircraft that received a type certificate after March 6, 1980, including the CL-600-2B19, the ATR42-300, and the DHC8-300 configured with 50 or fewer passenger seats, to operate with only one flight attendant. In addition, the DHC-7 aircraft configured with 50 or fewer passenger seats is eligible for an exemption to operate with only one flight attendant.

[Translation]

    The majority of nations, including the United States, require one flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats or portion thereof installed in an aircraft. The European authority representing the U.K., France, Germany, Sweden, etc., require that there be one cabin crew member for every 50 passenger seats installed on the same deck of the airplane—a slight difference from the United States requirement. The Australians require that there be one flight attendant for every 36 passengers or portion thereof on board, and for aircraft with more than 216 seats or that has twin aisles, the minimum cannot be less than the number of floor level exists.

    To provide the historical timeline and to put Transport Canada's decision-making into context, in December 2000, the Air Transport Association of Canada—or ATAC—proposed an amendment to the current regulatory requirement to permit the choice of operating in compliance with either the Canadian or a modified version of the U.S. regulations. The proposal was rejected in March 2001 as the information provided by ATAC failed to demonstrate an equivalent level of safety to the existing rule, and acceptance would have created an un-level playing field. This decision was based on the information provided at that time.

    In October 2002, Transport Canada received a second proposal from ATAC requesting a rule change that would allow operators the flexibility of operating either under the 1:40 or 1:50 ratio. Given this broader scope and the rationale provided, Transport Canada decided that a formal risk assessment should be conducted. It is important to note that all qualified stakeholders from industry, unions and passenger safety and consumer groups participated in the risk assessment. In September 2003, a copy of the risk assessment report was provided to the participants of the risk assessment and copies have also been provided to this committee, the last time we appeared before you, around mid-March.

Á  +-(1105)  

[English]

    Transport Canada is committed to making prudent safety-related decisions. The ability to manage risk in a consistent and effective manner is essential to fulfilling that commitment, making a strong risk management process an important part of the civil aviation organization's effective service delivery and safety monitoring. While we cannot remove the risk completely, we can use proven techniques to ensure that all aspects of the risk are identified and considered when making decisions.

    The Canadian Standards Association has developed a decision-making process, commonly called the Q850, that is used as a basis for Transport Canada's approach. This proven process provides a guideline that assists decision-makers in identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and controlling all types of risks, including risks to safety and health. This is the formal assessment that was used.

    As you know, the risk assessment indicated that while the maintenance of the current ratio of one flight attendant for every 40 passengers provides a consistent equivalent level of safety to which the Canadian public has become accustomed, the ratio of one flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats offers an acceptable level of safety, provided all the safety requirements of the proposed regulations are met and special measures are taken to mitigate the risk associated with the possibility of fewer flight attendants.

    Refined training requirements and a demonstration of emergency evacuation procedures are examples of the mitigation measures that can aid in enhancing an equivalent level of safety.

    Transport Canada has now drafted regulations to permit the 1:50 regulation as an option to the current regulation. 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, which we call 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 that represent operators and manufacturers, and professional associations.

    The CARAC process provides stakeholder consultation at an early stage so all perspectives are considered and, once implemented, regulations are better understood and accepted.

    Stakeholder consultations on that subject were held on April 6, 7, and 8. At that meeting, unions and passenger safety and consumer groups stated their opposition to any change to the existing flight attendant requirements. However, these groups did not present any new safety information on which to base this opposition. The issues remaining relate to labour and service. The risks associated with this change relate to the public perception that this change could increase the safety risk to the travelling public. I have brought copies of the notice of proposed amendment reviewed during these most recent consultations, for your information.

    This proposed regulation must also be considered in relation to other regulatory requirements that are aimed at maintaining a safe environment in the air. The Canadian aviation regulations already require air operators to develop safety procedures for passengers with special needs. These passengers include, but are not limited to, those who are hearing and visually impaired, mobility-restricted passengers, infants, and unaccompanied minors.

    The procedures include pre-flight briefings, emergency briefings, and evacuation procedures. To provide a safe environment while accommodating individual needs, air operators are required to provide an individual safety briefing appropriate for each individual. In some cases, such as adults travelling with infants, the individual briefing will be directed to the person who is responsible for that passenger.

Á  +-(1110)  

[Translation]

    Air operators must also have procedures in place to manage an emergency situation safely and efficiently. In an emergency situation or evacuation, an able-bodied-person is assigned to assist the special needs passenger. Flight attendants will provide an individual briefing to the able-bodied-person and passengers to explain their respective duties. The procedures in place must also take into consideration accessibility issues of the Canadian Transportation Agency's Air Transportation Regulations and Code of Practice on Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.

    Transport Canada is confident that the proposed regulations, along with other current regulatory requirements, maintain an acceptable level of safety for passengers, including when passengers with special needs are carried.

    Written dissents to the proposals are to be submitted by each group by May 8, 2004, for the consideration of the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Committee. The Minister of Transport is also committed to submitting the draft regulations for consideration by the Standing Committee on Transport before proceeding with the publication of the amendments in Part I of the Canada Gazette. It is also important to note that publication in theCanada Gazette allows for a mandatory public comment period. The entire regulatory process could take two years or more, until the regulations are adopted.

    So, to answer your question, no, nothing concrete has been done as of yet.

[English]

    The proposed regulatory amendments demonstrate Transport Canada's commitment to maintaining a viable civil aviation transportation system, while not compromising safety.

    On a final note, the industry continues to be a strong supporter of the proposed amendments, which would harmonize the Canadian regulations with regulations currently in effect in many countries, including the United States and Europe.

    Thank you very much.

[Translation]

    We would now be pleased to answer any questions.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Merci beaucoup.

    Before we engage in the first round, I'd like to be clear on one thing--and correct me if I misunderstood. Before regulations would be changed, has the minister undertaken to present to this committee any possible new regulations about this issue?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: That's correct. Before we go to part I of the Canada Gazette, we will come to this committee with the proposed text of the regulation.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you. Some of our members had that concern, that we would take a flight some day and the flight attendant would refuse us a glass of water because we had done all this damage. I'm being facetious. But that was a concern, and I'm glad it's on the table. If there is an election or if anything else happens, then we won't come back afterwards and find it's been changed. I think that will make some of our members feel better.

    Colleagues, if you agree, I would suggest a first round of five minutes instead of seven. This is for information about what is going on. We're not studying the issue. We're not engaging the pros and cons of the issue. We're here to find out that we're not going to be waking up some morning and finding the regulations have been changed.

    We'll start with you, Mr. Barnes, for five minutes.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, CPC): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    I apologize for coming late. I missed a part of your presentation, so if I ask a question that wasn't in your presentation, well, that's fine too, because you should be able to answer it.

    Safety is a major concern throughout the whole industry. And of course, when it was brought to our attention that there was a proposal being looked at to reduce the number of flight attendants on flights, I think everyone on this committee found that to be a major concern.

    I'm just wondering if the analysis that was done back in 2001--I believe there might have been an analysis done in 2001--was the same as what we're talking about today, basically to reduce the flight attendants.

Á  +-(1115)  

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: It's a similar proposal, not the same proposal. But to my knowledge, we had not done a detailed risk analysis in 2001 like the one we just did in 2003.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: You say analysis was done. What was the difference? I believe back then, of course, it was quite clear that it failed the safety test. What's different today than from two years ago, in 2001?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I believe what the industry requested two years ago or three years ago was simply to have the ability to choose between 1 in 40 or 1 in 50 without anything else. The proposal we have now is 1 in 50 with a series of mitigation measures.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Is this proposal going to be moving forward to save money, despite worries about the safety of people in the air and safety for airline attendants? Is this a money situation for the industry?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: It is something we have looked at as a request from the air industry, of course. Safety is first in civil aviation for everything we do, but we must also take into account the economic impact of our regulations. We don't just, for the pleasure of it, look at the regulations to reduce them.

    But if we have a legitimate request to review a regulation like this one, we will look at it, but we will not change it if we think doing so would jeopardize the level of acceptable safety. In this case, the proposal is totally acceptable from a safety perspective. Furthermore, this regulation is now in place in the United States and in all of the countries in Europe.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Well, let's put it this way. It failed the test in 2001, from what I could understand. It was inadequate then. We've had a lot of things happen in the industry since 2001. I know this committee, and from the first time I was here we've pushed big time to give the airport authorities...I won't say a blank cheque, but basically the okay to make sure that security measures are put in place at the airports. And here we are today listening to the possibility that there's going to be a reduction of airline attendants in the skies.

    From anyone's perspective, if you reduce one or two of the bodies from the air who have been giving the service to the customer, there has to be an impact. I can see that this is going to be a major detriment to the airline industry and to consumers. It definitely is going to be a safety issue, and if you fellows can't see that.... I won't say you're in the wrong business, but you should definitely look at this through a different perspective, because there's something definitely wrong.

    You can have all the security you want in one direction, but if you don't have enough bodies in the air.... I've done the travelling, and everyone around this table has done the travelling, and I've been on the plane when there's been a medical emergency. I tell you, it's not an easy task for the airline attendants to care for the remaining people and to keep people calm and collected, as well as take care of the person who needs that medical attention. It's difficult. If anything, we should be looking at increasing attendants for safety reasons.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.): I have a point of order. I was wondering if my colleague would like to share a little bit more of his experience or if he can tell us when it was, so we can examine it.

+-

    The Chair: That's not a point of order.

    You have another minute, Mr. Barnes.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Are there documents with regard to all of this? Are there documents you can provide to the committee to show that it's not going to be a safety issue, or what's going on?

    I mean, you fellows have to give us more information. Is there analysis done showing that it's not a safety issue? It's already been stated that it failed a safety test back in 2001, so what has changed?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: We've provided you with a risk analysis, which is quite detailed, and a whole range of situations and their various impacts are described in there. It's in light of this that we have developed the proposal.

Á  +-(1120)  

+-

    The Chair: Monsieur Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    My first question is for Mr. Preuss. You are Director General for Civil Aviation. I would be inclined to believe you because you are in a position of responsibility. Can you explain to me what your responsibilities are as Director General for Civil Aviation?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss (Director General, Civil Aviation, Department of Transport): I guess in general I'm responsible for putting in place a framework within which the industry will function at a level of security that's acceptable.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: In 2001, when there was a first request, the report was issued by Ms. Frances Wokes, and in an e-mail you replied to her that she was absolutely right, that you supported her. I'll use your exact words: It is clear to me that it failed the safety test...

    So, if it was failing the safety test in 2001, explain to my why—and I don't accept Mr. Grégoire's statement to the effect that in 2001 the ratio was 1:40 and that today... You looked at 1:40, and 1:50 in 2001. If it didn't pass the safety test then, why would it pass it today?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: The regulations associated with this particular issue are not simply the ratios. The other items that are considered are wide and varied. When that proposal came in with respect to the safety framework we had in place, there were not sufficient mitigations. In other words, it wasn't acceptable as proposed, so at that point in time, given the weaknesses in that proposal from a safety perspective, I wrote that e-mail.

    What was proposed this time around was quite different. Fortunately, in the intervening period we became rather sophisticated in doing risk analyses. This risk analysis, of which I'm sure all the members present here have a copy, is the result now of a process that is quite mature, that takes a look at things in a more scientific manner. Also, the proposal was more complex and took into account some of the safety issues that were left vacant before.

+-

    The Chair: Is there a point of order?

+-

    Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, CPC): I'd just like to ask about that risk analysis. Is that the one that—

+-

    The Chair: That's not a point of order. A point of order is on the rules and the way the chair administers the meeting.

    Continue, please.

    You'll get your turn next round.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: Basically what we're talking about today in terms of a proposal for regulatory change is not the same as what was proposed in 2001. I stand by what I said in 2001, and I'll stand by what I say today. This is a different proposal, even though we're still basically dealing with the ratio issue.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Except that, Mr. Preuss, on page 13 of the 2003 risk assessment we find in the conclusion the following:

In comparing options under given criteria, option 1 (status quo) comes out ahead, but option 2 is deemed acceptable [...]

    So,what we're being told, is that option 1 is the best option. I'll use the terms that Mr. Grégoire used, because from the beginning he's been saying it's acceptable. I have a hard time going from an ideal situation to one that is just acceptable, when we know that in January, February and March, strictly for Pearson International in Toronto, there were 300 passenger requests for help. We have an aging population. I have seen no client evaluation studies,I haven't seen any evaluation studies on the help that is offered. You are doing, what I would call, an economic security analysis; that's what it looks like.

    In your own risk assessment, we are being told that option 1, or the status quo, comes out ahead and that option 2 is deemed acceptable, I have great deal of difficulty accepting that we should go from the best to the not so good. I have a great deal of difficulty doing that, Mr. Preuss. Try to convince me otherwise.

+-

    The Chair: He doesn't have the time to.

[English]

    Ms. Desjarlais is next.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I'll just follow some of the questioning and the responses given. If you can, respond purely to the questions without any more leeway than necessary.

    You were mentioning the differences in a new, mature approach—quite a much more mature approach—to the risk assessment, and a more advanced risk assessment. I'd be surprised that in the course of just a few years, there had been that many strides in that area.

    When you were presented with the formulation from whoever did the risk assessment, I'm curious about exactly what information they told you they were going to base their risk assessment on and about who came up with the criteria the risk assessment would be based on. Where's the difference between this much more mature analysis and advancement in the risk analysis and what was there before?

    As well, from the security perspective, I don't think there's any question this is being done purely on the economics of the airlines' not wanting to pay another staff member. Anybody who believes any differently is crazy to even suggest it. It's purely being done because the airline industry is in trouble, and there have been huge security costs and other things that have happened. This is the response now: that we're going to not just cut service, but cut safety for the attendants and for the passengers. I think anybody who flies a lot would verify that.

    I would want the information on the two risk analyses. But also, I've looked through everything and haven't seen a particular security analysis. We've heard of the need for all these new security personnel at airports, and I don't see a security analysis of what will happen.

    Looking to the point that we have received information from pilots' associations with concerns about the security aspect of it, and certainly from the attendants themselves, and being myself a travelling passenger, I wonder what the heck would happen if there arose a security issue on the plane, and whether I'm going to have to rely on Mr. Hubbard for my protection if he and I are on the same plane, or rely on him to contact someone, if there's one flight attendant who happens to get knocked down or knocked out or stabbed. I would like to know where the security analysis is in this whole process.

Á  +-(1125)  

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: As far as the difference between 2001 and 2003 is concerned—and you showed some surprise that change could happen that rapidly—in that period of time we trained over 1,000 inspectors in this new process. The process was developed over a number of years, because we wanted to make our decision-making a lot more accountable.

    In terms of the process itself, it's really a simple process where we get experts in the process to run it. Specifically, in a situation like this, we'd like to have somebody at arm's length monitoring it so that we don't have our own people engaged in the process to the point where they influence the results.

    The other aspect of this is that we bring in the stakeholders; that would be, of course, the unions, the industry, and some of our own internal silos who get involved. The process is really quite scientific. What they're looking for is any hazards associated with the change.

    That's the process.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: If I may interject, do you have written documentation as to how this is going to proceed, and what scientific evidence they're using to put forth their scenarios in the risk assessment?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: It's all in the risk assessment, yes.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Actually, it's not within what's here. I want whoever is doing it to go in there with a formula that says, we're going to be looking for this, based on this scientific reasoning behind it. Quite frankly, as I glance through there, I don't see the scientific reasoning behind it. You keep saying it's there, but based on my background as to when a scientific approach to things is being taken, the scientific reasoning isn't put forth first and then responded to.

    I'm curious that you mentioned 1,000 new inspectors.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: Yes, 1,000 inspectors were trained during that period, madam.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: What year did you use?

    A voice: It was 2001 and 2003.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: During that period of time, we brought everybody up to speed.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: And these are Transport Canada inspectors?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: We have about 1,500 people in the program nationwide, and about 1,000 of those are delegated people.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I'm just thinking back to the problems we had concerning the number of Transport Canada inspectors during my time with this transport committee. I'm just going to have to go back to check the numbers, because this seems a bit high—quite a bit high, from what we had had indicated to us.

    You indicated to us that you had 1,000 new inspectors trained, so—

+-

    The Chair: One moment. I don't think he said “new inspectors”. They have trained 1,000 inspectors.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: In this process. Oh, okay.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: You were concerned about how we could go from knowing nothing in this area to knowing so much. That's part of it.

Á  +-(1130)  

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay.

    So if you were able to train the 1,000 inspectors in this new process, how would you go about training them? Would you train them to--

+-

    The Chair: There's no time for a response.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: No time for a response? Fine. I'll get it next time.

+-

    The Chair: You will have an opportunity for closing remarks.

    Colleagues, if you make your questions shorter, you'll get in three or four questions in five minutes.

    Mr. Karygiannis, five minutes.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Good morning, and thank you for coming.

    I had an opportunity to look over the reports, and I have a very simple question. With a thousand reporters and bean counters this way, bean counters that way, you can manipulate the figures, or jack them, or whatever it is. Whatever decision you make depends on which side of the fence you sit on.

    I have one simple question, or two simple questions.

    One, we're going to embark at some point in time this year on having all stakeholders, and I mean all stakeholders, in a round table, or holding round tables. Am I correct on that?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: If you're talking about how we consult....

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: No, no, how we're going to consult.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: We have a very well-documented process that includes anybody who would like to show up at the consultation meeting. In fact, my colleague is the chair of that particular technical committee.

    That happened just at the beginning of this month, on the seventh and eighth. It was fully debated again and consulted on again.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: My second question is again very simple.

    I am going to go home tonight and see my wife and my daughter, and I am going to hear my daughter say, “Dad, you did this today. I want you to look me in the eye, Dad, and tell me that when we go from 40 to 50, or from 50 to 40, I absolutely can fly with no problem, guaranteed. Dad, I want you to tell me this while you look me in the eye.”

    So with that question coming from my family, I want to look you in the eye, sir, and ask you a very simple, straightforward question: in your mind, you have absolutely and positively no second thoughts that this can be done if we go down this pipeline?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: I have no problem with that. The risk assessment is not black and white--it never is--but in my considered opinion, we can deal with this at an acceptable level of risk.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: So when we're doing the risk assessment and some of the stakeholders are looking for more information, you're willing to provide what's on the third column?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: To my ability, yes, sir.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: And this is not a war between two unions, or three unions, and who goes somewhere, who goes somewhere else...?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: I'm not sure of the question.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: I'm going to ask you the question again. I have to face my wife tonight, and when she asks me that question, looking at me straight in the eye, I'm going to have to give her an answer. So I'm looking at you straight in the eye: there's absolutely no problem going from 40 to 50?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: With the mitigation processes in place, we will have an acceptable level of risk.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Please qualify “an acceptable level of risk” in layman's terms.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: Nothing is risk free in this world. This will give us an acceptable level, based on the analysis we've done.

    It's a very complex issue, this safety framework.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: That's your time.

    In all fairness, I don't think the conclusion has been reached yet. There's still consultation going on. I don't think it's the three gentlemen at the table here who are on one side, pushing for this, where some of the unions are resisting. They are professionals who have the job of participating in the consultation, and eventually, collectively, making a recommendation. But we're not there yet.

    You still have time. You have a minute.

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Okay.

    I really want to thank you for looking me in the eye and giving me your best assessment of the situation.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: But I have to base it on the analysis that's done. So I guess another way to answer your question is that I have confidence that the professionals who did this assessment--

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Very honestly, I'm looking to work with all stakeholders to make sure that this confidence is something we can sell to the Canadian public, and when my wife looks at me in the eye and asks, “Do we go or don't we go?”, I can say yes.

+-

    The Chair: A three-minute round, Mrs. Yelich.

+-

    Mrs. Lynne Yelich: I have a motion, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: No, not at this point. You can give it to me after the meeting, if you want, but we're not accepting motions at this meeting.

+-

    Mrs. Lynne Yelich: My concerns are who you consulted with. Have you consulted with the disabled, some of the passengers? Who have you really consulted? How have you come up with this analysis?

    I know you've done impact analysis, you did numbers, but I'm thinking of situations. I guess my best analogy would be a swimming pool where you have lifeguards, and there's always a ratio there. Always my concern is if there are some unexpected events that happen where you think, thank God there are two lifeguards, but really maybe they only need one lifeguard per ten children.

    I think you can come upon the same sort of situation where there is perhaps something that comes up really quickly--health, or some unexpected event, or somebody does something that's really disturbing. So I'm just wondering if you've ever looked at it from the passengers' view.

    I'm thinking of my colleague talking about one of her colleagues saving her. I'm thinking of sitting on that plane between two people, too, and one might have a heart attack. I cannot help that person. I don't care if there are only 40 passengers there, I don't feel very good. So I'm kind of wondering how you justify safety up in the air.

    We're 30,000 feet up; we're not just on the ground. I think it's a very serious situation, and I would like you to tell me, who are you going to consult with, or who have you consulted with, when it comes to safety?

Á  +-(1135)  

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau (Director, Commercial and Business Aviation, Department of Transport): Thank you very much.

    As part of the risk assessment that we conducted, we did bring different groups such as the disabled, different organizations, and they did bring the same points as you brought forth at this table. We did take them under consideration.

    On the type of committee I chaired just recently, on April 6 to 8, we had people there from disabled groups also. One particular lady--she was a very, very nice lady--struck my heart when she stood up and spoke, but all the issues she had were service issues. She said, “Well, who's going to help me get on the airplane or help me get off, or who's going to help me to the washroom?” When it came a safety issue about evacuation, she said, “I don't want your help; I can get up and do it myself.” This lady was the chair of the blind.... So I said, oh my God. Her comment really struck me.

    For the medical emergencies, when it comes to that, the flight crew, the cabin crew all have standard operating procedures they must follow. If somebody has a medical emergency such as a heart attack, it depends on where the airplane is. The flight attendants will deal with that and also will communicate with the flight crew in front and advise them of the medical emergency. At that time they follow standard operating procedures and contact their dispatch, contact their companies, or they contact MedLink, something that the aircraft would have, and determine what the best options are and where they would go. So those procedures would be in place whether you have 1 in 40 or 1 in 50. I wouldn't see any difference there.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Hubbard.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I know we're talking about all different levels of safety, whether it be minimum, maximum, optimum, acceptable, and so forth, but we have to recognize that we are changing the level of safety. We are changing it.

    Now let's get down to dollars and cents, because apparently this is a money issue. Airlines believe they're going to save money by changing the number of flight attendants they have aboard their craft.

    What is the dollar and cents business on it? How much will an airline save by changing from 1 in 40 to 1 in 50? Can someone give me the dollars and cents on that, per passenger?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I don't think we've done that.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: I'm surprised that you don't have that answer, because you're changing the level of safety because of a monetary issue. If you can't give this committee the monetary issue, how can we make any decision on what value a person's life has in terms of money?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Well, this is an information session as part of--

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: I know, but that's information you should bring to this committee.

    Now let's go a step further. We'll take the new airport in Toronto. I saw a figure in the press recently of what the new terminal cost. Can one of you give me the cost of that new terminal, within $20,000?

    I just want to put that into perspective. In fact, you could build four bridges to Prince Edward Island for what that new terminal cost. The airline industry did not come to this committee protesting what that terminal was going to cost the average passenger, yet today, for probably about $1.50, we're trying to decide whether or not we have a public that can fly safely. Without that information, I don't think we're in any position to really make any recommendation or to review this until we look at it in terms of what value we place on safety.

+-

    The Chair: That's why we're not reviewing and we're not making recommendations.

Á  +-(1140)  

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: That's the point I want to put to this. We have to know what value we're putting upon the passenger; when he's paying for his $400 ticket, how much goes toward this poor flight attendant whose job we're trying to cut out; and whether or not, in terms of the safety of the flying public, from our point of view as a committee, people elected by this nation, it's worth risking the safety value that we presently have in the airline industry.

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Somewhere down the line it will come to the committee. So those questions could be asked of the department, and we can get that information fed to us in preparation for that. I'll ask the clerk and the researcher. We can't overrule regulations.

    We will be perusing them, because the minister has committed that he would bring them here, but I don't think it's the role of the committee to overrule regulations. We can recommend to the House to do things, but don't forget that we're talking about regulations and this is an information session.

    Monsieur Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    I'm going to continue along the same lines as Mr. Hubbard. There's been no analysis on the financial side. However, it's a question of money. I find it hard to accept your position, Mr. Preuss, because security must be your first priority as Director for Civil Aviation. Mr. Karygiannis may seem satisfied with the response he got earlier, but I can tell you that I am not, because even your risk assessment states that option 1, the status quo is the best option when it comes to security. Even if you try to tell us that your study determined that option 2, the1:50 ratio, was deemed acceptable, if we really want to be able to tell the taxpayers that we represent...

[English]

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I'd like to question my colleague through you. How did he come to summarize that I was satisfied? Is he a mind reader and can he read my mind?

+-

    The Chair: All right--

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Then don't throw things that--

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I am sorry.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

[Translation]

    Coming back to Mr. Laframboise.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: It was a misinterpretation on my part, but the fact remains that that the current situation, the status quo, is much more acceptable, even according to your study. The problem, as far as I'm concerned, is that you haven't done an analysis. You haven't done a financial analysis, and you haven't done an analysis of future clients. We have an aging population. We have to bear in mind the fact that people need more and more help.

    Did you analyze the help that would be required by passengers in 3, 4, 5 and 10 years as opposed to the help required 3, 4 or 5 years ago? We have to ensure we offer client services that are as good as the ones currently offered. It's not only about expenses or savings for airlines, it's also a security issue, Mr. Preuss. This is why I understood your reaction in 2001, but I have a difficult time understanding your reaction today.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: If you allow me, I will answer first and then I will hand over the floor to Michel so that he can answer your questions regarding people with disabilities.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I am sorry, but it is not necessarily people with disabilities, it's the fact that the population is aging.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Okay.

    With respect to economic studies—and that brings us back to Mr. Hubbard's question regarding an economic analysis—, we haven't done one yet, but we are in the process of doing so. That will be part of what's called the RIAS, the impact assessment study that is done as part of the regulations to appear in The Gazette. But one shouldn't assume that in all cases, this option is less safe. It's only the case in certain situations. In certain situations, there would be more security, and in others, there would be less. It depends on the number of passengers on board.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Mr. Grégoire, I want to stop you right there, because I didn't come up with the findings of your study. Your study concluded that:

In comparing options under given criteria, option 1 (status quo) comes out ahead, but option 2 is deemed acceptable when it comes to security.

    So, don't try to tell me it's the same thing. This is your own study. Be consistent. Don't take me for...

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: I'm not saying it's the same thing, Mr. Laframboise. What I am saying, is that it depends on how many passengers are in the aircraft. If a plane is full, for instance a Boeing 737 with 132 passengers, yes, under our new regulations, there would be one flight attendant less, because today, you would have 132 divided by 40, and under the new regulations, you would have 132 divided by 50. So, 132 divided by 50 means 3 flight attendants. So, on the same aircraft, under current regulations if you have 132 passengers, you would have 4 flight attendants. If you have 34 passengers there is 1 flight attendant. According to the new regulations, it's 1 per 50 seats. So there would always be three flight attendants, regardless of the number of passengers. So, in theory, one could think that there would be a higher level of security when there are fewer passengers than when the plane is full. So, a statistical analysis is what is underway.

Á  +-(1145)  

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Cannis.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    In any industry today, living in this global community, there are international standards. We export certain products. The importing company expects a certain standard. When we import, whether it be pharmaceuticals or what have you, we demand certain standards.

    Obviously in this industry there are international standards, I presume, and we have to abide by them because when we fly into another air space, for example, we have to meet those standards.

    I'd like to go on record. Has that been looked at? Do we have obligations? And how do other countries apply this? What are their numbers, etc.? Can you give us an idea on that? Or are we just setting our own standards? When it comes to security and safety post-9/11, for example, all countries are trying to implement new programs--screeners, re-training, equipment, etc.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: From a global perspective you have the International Civil Aviation Organization, which publishes standards and recommended practices. We meet or exceed the ICAO standards.

    So in this case, ICAO was basically recommending 1 in 50, and as we've heard here, our process is somewhat different in terms of how we've addressed the safety issue. Generally speaking, it would not be a problem one way or the other for us on the international scene in terms of meeting the expectations of the world.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: And their request, their figures, are what again, if I may ask?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: Basically 1 in 50.

+-

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

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: If I can add to that, they're 1 in 50. That means that all European airlines and all American airlines are using the ratio of 1 in 50. We must know that a large number of Canadians are using those airlines, and when those airlines are also flying in and out of Canada they're using the 1 in 50 ratio, and we're very confident that this is totally safe.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: I think I have 60 seconds left, Mr. Chairman, do I?

+-

    The Chair: Thirty seconds.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: I know that Canadians today, when you put the question to them, “Look, with respect to our safety, if we need to add a dollar or two or three on your ticket because we're going to provide this, etc.”, I'm inclined to believe that they will say, “Here's an extra two dollars per ticket. I will pay it”.

    I'm concerned that this cost factor will eventually not be passed on and eventually somehow it will just fade into the way and the service won't be provided. Canadians will pay for it, but in the end it will just go awash.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Ms. Desjarlais wishes to allow Mr. Proctor to ask a question. I urge you to give me unanimous consent.

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Proctor, three minutes.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that.

    The deputy minister said earlier that safety would not be compromised in any change and yet we hear today that Mr. Preuss is talking about an acceptable level of risk. Aren't those mutually incompatible?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: I have to go back to what I said before about the risk framework. It is not a black and white issue. And if you're going to go back and say to us, well, intuitively, under certain conditions, the 1 in 40 is safer than the 1 in 50, then before I could answer you yes or no, you'd have to go back and ask the question, well, how did the 1 in 40 or the 1 in 50 arrive? So basically what I'm saying is, as time has gone on, we've become more sophisticated in our ability to analyze the risk, and today we find the risk acceptable, based on the last study that we have.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: You've mentioned several times about special mitigation measures being met, or about to be met. Can you expand on that?

Á  +-(1150)  

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: Michel has the detail.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Some of the proposed amendments that we introduced had the mitigating factors. I'll name a few examples.

    There are limitations to the number of types of airplanes flight attendants would be able to be qualified on. Whereas today a flight attendant may need to be qualified on fifteen different airplanes, this new proposal has the limitations to three types, with variances on there up to a maximum of five.

    Another example is on wide-bodied aircraft, for example, such as the Airbus, such as the Boeing-747s, or 767s. We have mitigating factors where you would require a flight attendant for each floor-level exit, where it's not required today. The training standards for flight attendants are now being described a lot better than they were before, and the in-charge training that would be required is now being described. There are standardizations that we're proposing on where the emergency equipment is going to be put, and we say that if you're going for 1 in 50, you must have an evacuation demonstration in order to prove that you are able to do the 1 in 50.

    So all these things are mitigating factors that we are proposing with these new regulations.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: Thank you. On the consultation process that you talked about, where and when and how is that being publicized? I take it these meetings are still going on.

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: It's updated as frequently as there are changes, and it's there for everybody to see on an annual basis.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: And where are they published?

+-

    Mr. Merlin Preuss: On our website, yes. And we have a large membership, the CARAC membership, which receives all this information automatically.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: Yesterday in my hometown of Regina there was an emergency evacuation of a WestJet flight with 110 passengers. I assume that it had a crew of four flight attendants on board. Fortunately everybody escaped unscathed. If these regulations were in place, we'd be at three at that point?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Actually, there were four flight attendants, yes, but the regulation of today only required three, and the proposed regulation would require three, as well, in that particular situation.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: Okay. But they did have four?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: They did have four yesterday, yes.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: But presumably if this were in place, they wouldn't have four tomorrow.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Not necessarily.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: The perception was that they only required three.

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: This is the company that is pushing for the change, is it not?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes, but yesterday they only needed three. They needed three, and they decided to have four, for whatever reason. So the same logic applies to the 1 in 50.

+-

    The Chair: Are you finished, Mr. Proctor?

+-

    Mr. Dick Proctor: Yes.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Jobin.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin (Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Lib.): Earlier on, you said that a 1:40 ratio ensured an A safety rating, and that a 1:50 ratio ensured an acceptable level. In school, was is acceptable, is a passing grade, or a C.

    How can you sell to people the idea that you're going from a very safe safety rating to a passing grade a C, when you want to reassure them and tell them that by taking a plane, they will be well looked after by flight attendants, in terms of service as well as safety?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: First, we have already started a statistical analysis, in it we will be comparing flight occupancy rates with the total number of movements. We will then be in a position to say in what percentage of the time there could be fewer flight attendants on board.

    It is quite rare in our days for planes to be 100 per cent full—you all fly regularly, so do I—; it happens, but not very frequently. In general, the occupancy rate is somewhere between 70 and 75 per cent. We're carrying out a statistical analysis and we'll be able to demonstrate that.

    Furthermore, the concept of a safety level is rather vague, as Mr. Preuss explained. If you take for instance something that all Canadians can relate to, such as speed limits, I believe that it is safer to drive more slowly. However, nowadays, there is 100 km/hr speed limit on most highways in Canada. It is however much safer to drive at 90 km/hr. So why don't the provinces reduce the speed limit to 90 km/hr right away? It's because you try to strike a balance between safety and economics. The same applies to air transport. We try to strike a balance between economic values and safety values.

Á  +-(1155)  

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: Earlier on, you said that the United States and Europe had a 1:50 ratio currently. Did they go from 1:40 to 1:50, in the United States, or has their ratio always been 1:50?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: They started, I believe, at 1:44 and increased it to 1:50 recently.

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: And what has been the popular reaction to the change, in the United States?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: I can't tell you, I'm sorry.

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: When was the change carried out in the United States?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Several years ago.

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: Was it before the September 11, 2001 events?

+-

    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Yes, yes, much earlier.

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: You know that there's always the issue of perception in life, and for the public, especially after the events of September 11, 2001, air safety has become very important. So, you'll have to promote awareness, if ever you're able to get to a 1:50 ratio. You'll have to properly inform the public that safety will not be compromised.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Before I go on to a very quick last round, does a European or American carrier who comes to Canada have an extra flight attendant?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: No.

+-

    The Chair: They don't, so Canadian airlines are financially at a competitive disadvantage then?

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes.

+-

    The Chair: Okay. We will have a round of about 30 seconds each, just for a question. They may choose to answer those questions in their closing remarks; they won't answer every time. It will be less than a minute, for sure.

    Mr. Barnes.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thirty seconds is not a long time. But anyway, there should be a commitment by the people here today to come back before this committee before any changes are made.

    I don't think you fellows have made a good pitch for the business case, and I'd like to see a business case before this committee to determine what is right and what is wrong and what the benefits of this change are going to be for the airline industry, because it's going to do nothing for the employees.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Whoever we want to have in front of this committee, we'll just ask for them. That's all.

    It's not up to them to just feed information....

    Monsieur Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I wanted to say something in a similar vein, Mr. Chairman. He had answered from the start, but it's well understood—and I want you to confirm it for me—that before any regulations are adopted on this issue, they should be presented to the committee, and if ever there are elections, you will wait for the committees to be struck to do so.

+-

    The Chair: We expect you to respond to that specifically.

    Ms. Desjarlais.

[English]

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I want to make the point that I'm extremely concerned, based on the testimony we've heard, that the people in the disabled community will have to incur larger costs due to the changes here. The airlines will take the position that it's going to cost them more if they have certain numbers of people who need assistance.

    I don't think the response I heard verified that there was enough representation from the disabled community. I would like to know specifically who attended those meetings.

    I also wanted to make the point that just putting on your website that you're having a meeting is not public notification.

+-

    The Chair: My intent was that you ask questions.

    Is there anyone on this side? Mr. Karygiannis?

+-

    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: Once you have the next hearing meetings, I would like to ask you to invite all of the stakeholders, be they the industry, the unions, the union representatives—and I mean all of the unions, be they CUPE, the Teamsters, and anybody else. As well, if my colleague wants you to notify those committee members, could you invite them to go on the list service of the transport committee, so that they can be notified?

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    They don't have to advise this committee. There is no official request by the committee, but by an individual.

    Monsieur Jobin.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Christian Jobin: In your plan for change, there's surely a training plan provided for flight attendants. With respect to mitigation measures, it would perhaps be a good idea for us to be informed of the extra training plan which will be necessary to ensure safety.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Merci.

    Mr. Cannis.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Mr. Chairman, as this is an international industry, I would just like to see that we do compare internationally these figures categorically, from country to country.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you and, by courtesy, Mr. Proctor.

    Okay, I'll give you five minutes for closing remarks, and you can incorporate your answers in the five minutes. Members have access to all of you at all times for all questions, not only when you come to the committee. I just want my colleagues to know that.

    Carry on.

+-

    Mr. Marc Grégoire: It would be our pleasure to meet you at any time and to answer your questions at any time.

    First of all, I want to reiterate the commitment the Minister of Transport made. Many of you asked the question, are we committed to come back here? The Minister of Transport, Mr. Valeri, made a strong commitment that, yes, we will come back here before we publish anything in the Canada Gazette, part I.

    Secondly, there are many questions about the consultation process. The CARAC process, of which I talked briefly in my introductory remarks, now contains 700 members. These members are large associations, private members, governments, provincial governments, companies, etc. There's a large group of people, all kinds of unions. Anybody can be a member of CARAC, basically, and anybody can participate in the various debates that we have at CARAC.

    Of course, one may say that we're not joining the general public while having those meetings, so that's why the Gazette process is in place. There's a period of consultation in the Canada Gazette, part I, that is mandatory, in which case we are consulting the whole population through the Gazette.

    Nevertheless, we're committed to come back here and we will come back here. On the specifics of which groups have been consulted, I cannot answer that, but I'll give the mike to Michel right after I'm finished.

    It was our pleasure to be here to answer your questions. As many of you mentioned, it's a very difficult debate we're having. It's a matter of perception, as Mr. Jobin has mentioned. It's a matter of public perception, but I can assure you that neither I, Merlin, nor Michel would be here today presenting a proposal for a change in this regulation if we were not absolutely convinced that the acceptable safety level will be there and will be protected for Canadians.

    On the issue of harmonization, it's very important for us to harmonize as much as possible with our neighbours and partners throughout the world. The 1 in 50 rule is the ICAO standard. It is the rule adopted by most European countries and the United States of America. Therefore, if it's good for all of the millions of people travelling those airlines, it's good for us too.

    In a nutshell, those are my closing remarks. I will leave it to Michel. Of course, we will come back here in a while, probably not before four months or so, with a proposed regulation.

  -(1200)  

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    Mr. Michel Gaudreau: Merci, Marc. Thank you.

    I guess some people were wondering about the process of who we invited and who attended. CUPE, the biggest union that represents the most flight attendants, was certainly there. They made some presentations. Teamsters were there. The disabled groups were there and also took part in the risk assessment.

    I must admit they made some very good presentations. As a chair and executive director of the committee, my job was to take all of their comments and faithfully pass that on to the CARC, which is the higher body on top of that, to make sure every comment was taken and would be analyzed before we made a decision on going forward.

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    The Chair: If individual members would like a copy of the report, would you supply it to them individually?

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    Mr. Marc Grégoire: Yes, of course.

    Merlin Preuss would like to say a few words.

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    The Chair: Please carry on.

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    Mr. Merlin Preuss: I have one quick comment, if I could, Mr. Chairman, to do with the questions on the economic analysis side. I want to assure the committee that before we start spending a lot of time and effort doing economic analyses on safety changes, we ask the question, do we have an acceptable level of safety at the end of the regulation? Then we go in, as Marc has already mentioned, and do the economic analysis.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing. It was very helpful.

    Colleagues, there's no meeting on Tuesday. On Thursday of next week, we will have a meeting. There's a request from the Canadian Urban Transit Association to meet with me, so I'm offering a meeting with all of us. It will be from 11 to 11:30 next Thursday.

    The government House leader has asked us to address issues of appointment,; how we'd like to peruse and check appointments. I'd like to initiate the discussion on that. If we have the desire, we'll stay another half hour for future business.

    Thank you very much. Have a good weekend.