I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 47 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, February 3, 2022, the committee is meeting to discuss the Air Passenger Protection Regulations.
Today’s meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of Thursday, June 23, 2022. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application.
I wish to inform committee members that all witnesses have been sound tested for the benefit of our translators and have passed the test.
We have with us today, for the first half of our meeting, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, and department officials Dominic Rochon, acting deputy minister; Craig Hutton, associate assistant deputy minister, policy; and Nicholas Robinson, associate assistant deputy minister, safety and security.
Minister, thank you, as always, for accepting this committee's invitation to appear before us.
With that, to get things started, I'll turn it over to you for your five-minute opening remarks.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for inviting me to speak with you and the honourable members on this important issue.
I'm joined today by representatives from Transport Canada: Dominic Rochon, acting deputy minister; Nicholas Robinson, associate assistant deputy minister, safety and security; Craig Hutton, associate assistant deputy minister, policy; and Colin Stacey, director general, air policy.
I want to thank the Liberal members of this committee who called for this emergency meeting. Canadians deserve answers about what happened during this Christmas travel season. I welcome the chance to provide information and answer your questions.
Canadians understand that bad weather may disrupt air travel. However, they expect and deserve to be kept informed about alternative plans and be compensated when their rights are violated. Unfortunately, the circumstances faced by many travellers this holiday season were completely unacceptable.
I was incredibly concerned and frustrated to hear about those who were stranded or delayed, or who missed their holiday plans, due to horrible travel conditions. The safety and efficiency of Canada's aviation sector is a priority of mine. Upholding the rights of passengers is also a priority of mine. Supporting a competitive and resilient sector is a priority of mine.
During the acute phase of COVID, the sector faced very difficult conditions. Our government was there to support the sector and protect its jobs. As we were recovering from that acute phase, we saw a challenging period when the entire system showed some weakness in coping with the surge in demand. We worked closely with the sector to respond to those challenges and made quick adjustments to address bottlenecks.
Last fall I brought together industry leaders, including airlines, airports and unions. I stressed the importance of avoiding what we saw during the summer and discussed steps on how to further strengthen our sector.
For the most part, we've made progress.
For example, throughout the holidays we didn't see the long queues that we saw last summer at CATSA and CBSA screening lines. We took action to ensure that passengers weren't delayed, but we still have more to do; of course we do.
In terms of the air passenger protection regulations, we were the first government in Canadian history to put this in place—in 2019, just a few months before the pandemic started.
Naturally, the pandemic exposed weaknesses in the bill of rights. That is why last September we reinforced the regulations by requiring that travellers be entitled to reimbursement for situations beyond the control of the airlines.
Are there further opportunities to improve the rules? Yes. This is why, long before the events of the holiday season, we were working to strengthen passenger rights.
We are working on improvements to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations.
The burden of proof should be shifted from the passenger to the airlines. Currently, passengers are too often told by the airlines that they are not entitled to compensation when they really are. This situation has generated an avalanche of complaints to the Canadian Transportation Agency since last summer. We will, of course, continue to put the necessary resources into the CTA so that it can fulfill its mandate, but we will also make other changes to the regulations to improve their efficiency. I hope to be able to announce changes and introduce legislation in the coming months.
As far as VIA Rail is concerned, several elements came together to explain what happened—a CN derailment, snowstorms and highway closures. I can't even imagine the stress and fear that people must have felt at being stuck on the train for hours with little communication. There are no words strong enough to express how frustrated I was about the situation. I spoke to VIA Rail directly, and we will continue to have discussions on this.
Emergency protocols clearly need to be reviewed. A full examination of what happened is taking place. We will take action accordingly.
In conclusion, I want to tell you that the government is not hiding. We are going to assume our responsibilities, and those in the industry must assume theirs.
We will continue to work together to ensure that this never happens again.
Lastly, I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the employees in the Canadian transportation sector who worked hard over the holiday period to ensure that Canadians could make their way home or visit their friends and families.
Mr. Chair, that concludes my opening remarks. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you or my colleagues may have.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Minister, thanks for accepting the invitation.
We've heard a lot of testimony throughout the day. We've seen and heard first-hand stories of cancelled Christmases, delays, sleeping on airport floors and being shuffled from hotel lobby to hotel lobby in a foreign country.
Your government has been in power for seven years, and you have been Minister of Transport since the beginning of 2021. You oversaw the chaos this summer leading to Canadian airports being ranked the worst in the world—in both the number one and number two spots—and on November 17 you blamed airport staff shortages for the chaos during the summer and claimed to have solved the problem.
You had a summit, but, as we heard from witnesses today, provided no policy directives, per the airlines' testimony. Worse, passenger protections put in place by the government have failed to protect passengers, consumers or anyone in this country who was stuck elsewhere, or stuck on the tarmac for well over 12 hours in some cases. A Canadian who flies British Airways to the U.K. is better protected than one who flies WestJet to the U.K., and that remains a fact under these passenger protections.
Minister, you yourself are responsible and have the tools to fix it. The question is why you waited so long: why you waited from the first time you heard about Sunwing, presumably when the rest of the country did, on September 19; why you waited until January 5; and why you didn't speak to the airports, as we've heard, while Canadians were stranded again on tarmacs, in some cases in Vancouver for 12 hours.
I have a few questions.
The Canada Transportation Act permits cabinet, on your recommendation, orders to stabilize the national transportation system in an event of “extraordinary disruption”. We all agree that the Sunwing situation was an extraordinary disruption, and you didn't recommend to cabinet to make an order under section 47 in connection with Sunwing.
I ask, why not, and what was more important? What had you preoccupied?
I want to welcome Ms. Lantsman back to this committee.
There is so much in her remarks that deserves to be unpacked. I understand the political interest in conflating what happened last summer with what happened this Christmas. I think Canadians understand that they are two separate situations.
Having said that, our government and I personally have been very proactive since the summer. She talked about the summit I held, which was not the only thing done from the summer until now. She talked about communications with Sunwing. I can assure her and all my colleagues that, first of all, I have been briefed regularly and daily—in fact, sometimes hourly— on what's happening. My officials and my office have been in touch with Sunwing daily, and sometimes more than once a day, to ensure that we get updated and that we remind Sunwing of their obligations towards their customers and to Canadians.
Mr. Chair, when I was here on December 5, just over a month ago, committee members were asking me what lessons we had learned from the summer. I was glad to share our work plan. I did talk about the plan to improve the passenger bill of rights. I talked about the plan to modernize security screening. I talked about our plan to improve the authorities that airports have, and I talked about improving the authorities and the tools that the Canadian Transportation Agency needs. This is ongoing work. It is extremely serious, and we've been proactive.
I wish that when the Conservatives were in power, they had implemented a passenger bill of rights, because today we would have been in a much better position to improve and enhance the rules. We are where we are. As I said in my opening remarks, the government accepts its responsibility and is working to ensure that lessons learned will be benefited from and passengers' rights protected. However, it's important to remind Canadians that we have rights for passengers. In fact, Sunwing violated those rights, so the issue is not only that we didn't have rules.
Ms. Melissa Lantsman: Mr. Chair, I think we should take equal time—
Hon. Omar Alghabra: The issue is that some private operators also did not uphold their obligations.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and welcome, Minister.
Minister, as we know, Canadians need or want to travel at certain times of the year, to visit their families or go on a vacation. Geographically, we live in a big country, so aviation is our principal mode of transportation.
We also know that we've come out of two years of the pandemic, and the air sector, the aviation sector, was probably the worst-hit sector, not only here in Canada but around the globe. It has gotten back on its feet and is incrementally moving forward. There are some bumps along the way, which we see here as well as in the United States, with what happened with Southwest Airlines last week.
Our government, prior to COVID, was acting, including with the air passenger bill of rights and by introducing air passenger protections—unlike the previous government, which was in power for 11 years, did not take any action to protect consumers at all, and left it in the hands of private corporations—and I very much applaud this.
My first question for you, Minister, is with regard to the potential changes that may come in strengthening the air passenger protections that are in place. Will there be opportunities for Canadians to weigh in on those proposed changes?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Sorbara, for being here and for your questions.
Let me first echo what you said. You're right: We saw not only in Canada but across the world some challenges in the aviation sector with the recovery from the acute phase of COVID. We saw disruptions around the world—in the United States, in Europe and certainly in Canada—but we've taken action. We've taken steps to ensure that we've learned from those lessons and that as a government we provided the support that is needed, including enhancing the bill of rights for passengers.
To directly answer your question, right now I am currently consulting internally within Transport Canada and externally with our partners, and I know this committee held hearings in November about the passenger bill of rights. I'm sure you're going to come up with recommendations based on this study, so I will be welcoming the recommendations of the committee.
Once we have a draft proposal, we are going to table it in the House of Commons. Canadians and other stakeholders will be able to offer input. I am regularly receiving input from Canadians, and that is being taken into account in the drafting of the proposals.
This morning, we heard a mea culpa. We heard an apology from Sunwing in terms of its actions—or, I would say, lack of actions—during the Christmas period. Also, it was great to see the further strengthening of the air passenger bill of rights, which I think is the right path.
Minister, as we know, the travel system here in Canada is private. The entities that operate, such as the airlines, are private entities for the most part, but there are federal agencies that play very significant and critical roles, such as CATSA and CBSA. From your angle and from the data we've seen, how do these organizations perform over a peak season, i.e., the Christmas travel season?
Thank you for your question, Ms. Vignola.
First of all, thank you for repeating the fact that they were two different situations.
Canadians are used to the fact that we live in Canada and occasionally have extreme weather events that disrupt our travel plans. Canadians are patient when it comes to these things.
What is unacceptable to them and to me is being kept in the dark about what alternative plans are being provided, or being left stranded for days on end without any information. That was unacceptable. Today Sunwing acknowledged that it had made a mistake.
Having said that, I will answer your questions.
Yes, there are opportunities to strengthen the passengers' bill of rights. I said this in my committee appearance on December 5, and I will repeat it now, and I will assure you that I and the department are currently working on these rules.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's certainly interesting to see Liberal members here at the committee doing victory laps after we just experienced such a catastrophic travel season.
Minister, far from the opposition or the media conflating the summer and winter travel seasons, it was you—when you brought together industry players in November—who declared you were confident that Canadians could have confidence that there would not be the same issues plaguing the system that we saw in the summer. The travel chaos had been managed, because you held a summit. We've learned from both the airports and the airlines this morning that, in fact, you gave no policy direction at that summit. It appears to have simply been a public relations exercise, so that you could say you were doing something.
You indicated that the government should do everything in its power to protect passengers. We learned today. We asked the question. We asked the Vancouver Airport Authority, “Did the minister call you? Has the minister called you since the middle of December?” The answer was no.
We asked the Montreal airport authority, “Has the minister called you since the middle of December?” The answer was no.
We asked the Toronto airport authority, “Has the minister called you since the middle of December?” The answer was no.
Most shockingly, the airlines also indicated—especially Sunwing—that they did not hear from you directly until January 5, which was more than two weeks after the catastrophic failure of that airline, when people were sleeping in hotel lobbies in a foreign country.
You waited until the passengers had been returned to Canada. You waited until the crisis had passed before you did the basic thing of picking up the phone and contacting the entities that had failed Canadians.
Accountability starts at the top. I would argue that you are passing the buck. You have not engaged with the industry directly. You might have left it to your officials, but between Christmas and New Year's we needed to see action from you, and we didn't see it.
In the United States, we saw U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg pick up the phone. He had Southwest Airlines hauled onto the carpet within 24 hours of their failure, and you were nowhere for over two weeks.
Given that, why did it take you until January 5 to do your job and talk to Sunwing Airlines to demand answers for Canadian travellers?
That's a great question.
They revolve around three principles. The first one is clarification. It's clear that there's an issue of confusion about some of the rules. For example, Ms. Vignola brought up the point of safety. We need to clarify the rules there.
The second point is simplification. We need to make sure that in the process of complaints, the onus is more on the airlines. We need to simplify the process.
Third is strengthening, which means, are there additional rules we can make? There is, again, a question about the fines. Should the fines be strengthened?
Those are the three principles we're looking at. We're looking to international jurisdictions to see what lessons can be learned from them.
Those are, basically, the objectives we're trying to achieve.
Thank you, Ms. Koutrakis, and thank you, as my parliamentary secretary, for playing an important role in this period.
First of all, during the summer ordeal, I had the opportunity to speak with all airlines individually, to visit many of the airports—large, small and regional—and to benefit from their experience and insight. Then, last November, we hosted a summit that brought together the CEOs of airlines and airports, as well as representatives of unions, and we talked about action that was necessary moving forward.
Just before Christmas we also stood up a working group that involved airports, airlines and government agencies in preparation for the Christmas season, to make sure all the focus was on preparing for the Christmas rush. We all know Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, so we did a lot of preparatory work. Unfortunately, the storm happened and caused extreme disruption, and we also ended up seeing unfortunate decisions made by an airline operator that caused many of the—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Minister, where were you between December 23 and January 5 last year?
Canadians slept on airport floors. They waited for hours on planes, some in foreign countries, with no word. You keep saying the situation was unacceptable, but you didn't think it was serious enough for you, as Minister of Transport, to intervene.
You could have shown the leadership that Canadians expect from a minister. You could have picked up the phone and called the airlines and airports. You didn't even think the crisis was important enough, despite all the tweets you wrote, to agree to spend two hours of your time answering questions from committee members today.
Minister, do you intend to do as Sunwing has done, admit your wrongs and apologize to Canadians for your lack of leadership between December 23 and January 5?
I'm going to change gears a bit, Minister. VIA Rail wasn't here today. I know they're coming to a future meeting, but in your opening remarks you mentioned the issues they had.
I want to share with you an email I got from a constituent whose 83-year-old mother and her 82-year-old friend travelled from Chatham to Aldershot on December 23. Their train was four hours late getting in, but she said that given the weather conditions, they accepted that and were thankful that they arrived safely. However, when they returned home on December 27, they were supposed to arrive at 9 p.m. Their train was five and a half hours late. These two 80-year-olds got in to an unmanned VIA station at 2:20 a.m. It is very difficult in a smaller town like Chatham to get a cab at 2:20 in the morning.
I recognize that VIA Rail is a separate entity and that you're not in charge of it, Minister, but I would welcome your thoughts on VIA Rail and its actions over the holidays, and on ongoing issues like the one this older woman and her friend encountered.
I call this meeting back to order.
With us for the second hour we have, from the Canadian Transportation Agency, Madame France Pégeot, chair and chief executive officer, as well as Mr. Tom Oommen, director general, analysis and outreach branch.
From the Department of Transport, we have with us once again Dominic Rochon, acting deputy minister; Craig Hutton, associate assistant deputy minister, policy; Nicholas Robinson, associate assistant deputy minister, safety and security; and Colin Stacey, director general, air policy.
Thank you once again for joining us.
We'll turn it over to Madame Pégeot for her opening remarks.
Ms. Pégeot, you have the floor for five minutes.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to appear today.
As you noted, I am accompanied today by Tom Oommen, director general for analysis and outreach at the agency.
The agency has a broad economic regulation and dispute resolution mandate. On the one hand, this mandate relates to transportation by air, rail, marine and interprovincial bus, all of which fall under federal jurisdiction. On the other hand, it seeks to protect the rights of persons living with disabilities to an accessible transportation system.
The agency carries out its responsibilities in two specific roles. First, it acts as an economic regulator, responsible for developing regulations under the relevant legislation and implementing them. In addition, it issues licences, makes decisions and enforces regulations.
Second, the agency is also an administrative tribunal, resolving complaints through both informal and formal processes. A central part of its mandate is to provide air passengers with a consumer protection regime.
With the coming into force of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations in 2019, the agency established, for the first time, minimum consumer protection requirements that all airlines had to follow. Many of these requirements are designed to attenuate the impact of disruptions in air passengers' travel journey, and that is at their core.
The regulations impose requirements regarding three categories of flight disruption, with different passenger entitlements depending on the category of flight disruption: flight disruptions could be categorized as being within airline control, within airline control but required for safety, or outside airline control. Since the regulations came into force, many passengers have used them to enforce the airlines' new obligations.
I would like to remind everyone that the regulations came into force just before the pandemic. The pandemic, as you know, had a significant impact on the transport industry, which indeed had difficulty resuming normal operations. This resulted in a record number of complaints to the agency. To put this in perspective, here is some background.
In the year before the regulations came into force, in 2018‑19, the agency received about 7600 complaints. In the year that the APPR came into force, in 2019‑20, we received just over 19,000 complaints. And finally, in the current year, 2022‑23, that is since April 2022, the agency has received almost 21,000 complaints, just in the first half of the year.
We have streamlined our processes and achieved new efficiencies. Unfortunately, the fact remains that we have a backlog of about 33,000 complaints.
I just want to add that our experience has been that about 97% of our complaints are resolved informally through our facilitation process, which takes an average of 20 business days to close once an agency facilitator begins the process.
With respect to the recent holiday flight disruptions, we expect that a significant number of complaints will be filed with the agency. These complaints are usually filed a month or so after the flight disruptions in question, as passengers must first make their claim directly with the airline, which has 30 days to respond.
These flight disruptions began with winter storms that first impacted flights out of western Canada, particularly Vancouver, and later on impacted Ontario- and Quebec-based flights.
We were very quickly on the ground. Enforcement officers were there, communicating with airlines, monitoring the situation and gathering the necessary information. They are currently investigating potential violations of regulatory requirements, and the work is ongoing.
As an example of other things we have done, over the same holiday period, agency staff communicated with Sunwing regarding its cancellation of all flights to and from Saskatchewan until February 3.
At that time, we were told that all passengers requesting compensation—if they were informed less than two weeks in advance of their cancelled flights—would get compensation as required under the APPR, or the air passenger protection regulations.
We will continue to monitor the response of airlines to the holiday flight disruptions. We will also respond to incoming complaints arising out of these flight disruptions.
In order to help passengers who have filed complaints with the agency, we have recently added a new application to our website, which we call the case status update. It allows every complainant to know where they stand in the queue and what the next steps are in resolving their dispute with the airline.
Furthermore, we have posted consumer-friendly guides that can be easily read and navigated on a smart phone, and have provided information on what passengers are entitled to and how to file a complaint. This is to make it easy to follow the process, particularly if they are at the airport when the event happens.
We're also working on addressing the complaint backlog by further increasing our complaints processing capacity through identifying and implementing procedural improvements and modernizing our processes. We hope to eventually be able to automate some parts of our processes.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We'd be happy to respond to any questions.
For sure, we can. We have given fines.
I would start by saying that we have many tools to achieve compliance with the regulations. At the core of our system is that it provides remedies for passengers when they encounter problems during their travel journey, which is why we favour the resolution of complaints. In those cases, consumers get some form of compensation. When we provide an administrative monetary penalty, it doesn't go to the consumers or to the passengers.
That being said, we have six—and will soon have seven—enforcement officers who are very active in monitoring what's going on in the industry. We have given administrative monetary penalties for more than $185,000 and almost $100,000 since the beginning of this fiscal year.
As I mentioned earlier, with respect to what happened over the holiday, they are monitoring things and gathering data, and some investigations are going on.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd like to begin with some questions for Ms. Pégeot.
Thank you for being here. You mentioned the need to clarify the flight categories, which are listed in section 86.11 of the Canada Transportation Act. Canada, as you mentioned, has three categories. It seems as though a lot of the behaviour we're seeing from the airlines stems from the fact that there's this loophole in section 86.11 that allows airlines to construe almost every issue resulting in delays or cancellations as a safety issue. We're talking about flying aircraft through the air with hundreds of people on them, so lots of things are related to safety.
The European Union takes a very different tack. In the European Union there are only two categories. There's a category for ordinary disruptions. These are disruptions that could have been avoided by reasonable action on the part of the airline, such as making sure there are enough crew, making sure there are enough aircraft, or making sure those aircraft are properly maintained. The other category is extraordinary circumstances. These are things like terrorism or things like manufacturing defects that are identified by the manufacturer of the plane.
Why did Canada...? Maybe that's not the question for the CTA, because it goes back to the origin of the regulations, but do you feel that it would be productive for us to move towards the more simplified, two-category system that the EU uses? The EU is held up as having the gold standard when it comes to air passenger regulations.
I'll pose that question to you and then perhaps to the folks from Transport Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all our officials for being here this afternoon and for your very valuable testimony.
I also want to take the opportunity, because I'm sure you don't often hear this, from the bottom of my heart, to thank you and your teams very much for all the hard work you do. I know this isn't easy. A lot of very difficult questions are being addressed to you today. I have full confidence in your ability to see us through this difficult time. Thank you for doing what you do.
This question is for Transport Canada officials. I don't know who could take it. Earlier, when the was here, my colleague, Ms. Lantsman, suggested he use authorities he has under subsection 49(1) of the act to order the CTA to conduct an inquiry into what happened during the holidays. However, if he opted for this, while the agency would be required to conduct an inquiry and make public a summary of its findings—of course without any confidential information—such an inquiry would be analytical in nature and would not result in any corrective action. It would also consume agency resources that might otherwise be applied to addressing the backlog in complaints, which Ms. Pégeot spoke about.
This would not necessarily be the best use of its limited resources, would it, especially if we are already starting to get a good picture of what happened and why it happened?
With respect to conducting an investigation, you're quite right just in terms of looking at the details of what happened over the course of the holidays. That is something the agency is empowered to do in terms of complaints that are brought before it. It can look at those individual cases and make those determinations as those complaints come forward, with respect to what the individual circumstances were, and make rulings based on what it has before it. It has that power now. Many Canadians and passengers may choose to avail themselves of that opportunity, if they haven't already, in the coming days, if they're not seeking redress directly with air providers in the air sector system.
With respect to the use of resources, I'll leave it to the agency to talk a bit about how it organizes itself to manage the complaints that come to it.
You're quite right, in terms of any broad investigation, that the may ask or make a broad inquiry of the agency. That would deal not with any specific instance faced by a passenger but with the broad issues around the events over the holiday period. It wouldn't necessarily come to any particular recommendations on that.
That being said, I think the was quite clear that whether as a result of the study by this committee or other events he has hosted, conversations he's had, or interactions officials have had with transportation providers, we are looking very closely at improvements that can be made as a result of not only the disruptions we saw over the holiday period but also of course the congestion we saw over the course of last spring and summer. With respect to all these things, we are looking very closely for improvements that can be made, not only to the APPRs and the passenger rights regime but also, of course, more broadly in terms of how the sector responds and conducts its operations.
Thank you for your question.
Unfortunately, the situation we've faced in the last few years is quite extraordinary, after all.
As you know, the pandemic happened. Once the worst of it was over, passenger numbers suddenly jumped last summer by 300%, according to the figures I have. That contributed significantly to the difficulties that occurred this summer. Then there was this rather unique situation of all these storms that came through over the holiday season.
The only thing the Canadian government can say is that they are well aware of the situation, that they are doing their best, that they are bringing all the players in the ecosystem together to try to rectify the situation and fix the problems.
I think some progress has been made regarding the difficulties that arose over the summer, but there is more to be done, particularly with regard to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, which we are talking about today, to strike a better balance in the future.
With the help of the experts on this committee and with the discussions that are going on, I hope we will get there.
I find it quite alarming that despite all the 33,000 complaints, there have been no fines for failure to provide compensation. However, I'm going to move on to the officials from Transport Canada.
I'd like to speak to a slightly different issue. We've been focused on the situations faced by air passengers. Of course, on board those aircraft are also flight attendants, who are in many cases stuck in the same situations that the passengers are and are tasked with the very difficult job of managing hundreds of passengers under stressful and trying circumstances.
First, I want to thank them for the hard work they do. Second, I want to raise some of their concerns that have come to light.
First of all, I wasn't aware that flight attendants aren't paid unless they're actually on a flight. The recent disruptions have increased dramatically the amount of time that flight attendants aren't on board a flight, and have affected their overall pay. Secondly, the kind of duty time regulations that apply to pilots are not extended to flight attendants working in the back of the plane, despite the fact that their roles are critical to the safety of the passengers on board that aircraft.
Is the department aware of these concerns? Is it working on policy to address them?
Madame Pégeot, I want to come back to a question I started before. It's my understanding that the CTA and Transport Canada regularly exchange encrypted emails. It is my understanding that some of these emails have been deleted. I'm going to give you the opportunity. Maybe you misspoke in saying that's not the case, but an affidavit that the CTA filed in Federal Court suggests the opposite.
For every Canadian watching, for every Canadian who has a complaint filed with the CTA and for all those who were left sleeping on airport floors and shuffled from hotel lobby to hotel lobby in a foreign country, I want to know how you ensure transparency and independence if the public cannot scrutinize any of the emails through access to information or any of the tools that we as an opposition have at hand.
I want to know how it's possible that you would serve the Canadian public, who are looking for answers and who I'm not sure have found any in this hour of this committee, and how you ensure they get the information they need through the right channels, if you're using encrypted email to speak to the Government of Canada about cases?