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e-4470 (Employment and labour)

Initiated by Wesley Lesosky from Port Moody, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Flight attendants in Canada perform duties that are essential to the safety and comfort of air passengers; and whereas flight attendants are not paid for many of these duties including but not limited to boarding, pre-flight safety checks, ground delays, or are paid only half their hourly rate for Transport Canada-mandated training;
  • and whereas, according to a survey conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees of over 9,000 flight attendants, flight attendants in Canada work unpaid for 35 hours per month, on average; and
  • and whereas the Government of Canada, through the Canada Labour Code, currently provides flexibility to employers in Canada to define work and what is to be paid, including training, time at the worksite waiting to be assigned work, and time spent on break but remaining at the employer’s disposal.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to fix the relevant legislation and regulations so that any employee who is performing training required by their employer, or the federal government or regulator; who is required to be at the worksite waiting to be assigned work; or who is at the worksite remaining at their employer’s disposal, is being paid at the employee’s contractual rate of pay, and no less than federal minimum wage, so that an employee who is at work, in uniform, performing work duties is being paid for their time from the moment work duties begin.

Response by the Minister of Labour and Seniors

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Terry Sheehan

The Government of Canada recognizes that more than 17,000 petitioners have expressed their concerns over the working conditions and pay of federally regulated flight attendants. We understand that these citizens and residents of Canada have called upon the Government of Canada to make legislative and regulatory changes to ensure that an employee who is at work, in uniform, performing work duties is being paid for their time from the moment work duties begin. This is an issue the Labour Program is aware of and continues to monitor. The Labour Program will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that working conditions of employees are respected in all federally regulated workplaces.

Part III of the Canada Labour Code (the Code) establishes employment conditions such as hours of work, payment of wages including the minimum wage, overtime pay, general holidays, protected leaves and rights on termination of employment for employees under federal jurisdiction. The provisions of the Code set the minimum labour standards for all federally regulated workplaces.

Under Part III, employers must pay employees no less than the minimum wage for all hours of work performed. While the Code leaves some scope for employment contracts to define what constitutes paid work in certain circumstances, the Labour Program’s interpretations, policies and guidelines related to hours of work provides a general interpretation of work, which includes any trial periods, training required by the employer, time spent at the employer’s disposal at the worksite waiting to be assigned work, and time spent while on break but remaining at the employer’s disposal.

Collective agreements also govern a wide range of employment-related matters, including wages, working hours, benefits, and dispute resolution processes. The provisions of the Code merely set the floor for what the minimum allowable labour standards are. Collective agreements can provide different benefits and rights if they are equal or more favourable to the employees than what they would be entitled to under the Code.

For flight attendants – approximately 90% of whom are unionized – the definition of work and what work is to be paid for is negotiated between employers and bargaining agents. The terms and conditions of employment agreed to during collective bargaining, including hours of work and compensation, are then prescribed in their respective collective agreements.

All employees in federally regulated workplaces, regardless if they are unionized, who believe that their employer has contravened the provisions of the Code, have a right to file a complaint with the Labour Program. Unionized workers who experience challenging working conditions should also follow the recourse options available in their collective agreement and seek recourse through the grievance process. If a complaint is filed with the Labour Program, all allegations will be rigorously analyzed and investigations will be conducted. The Labour Program will assess whether the collective agreement provides for entitlements that meet the minimum standards of the Code. If an employer has contravened the Code, the compliance continuum will be followed and enforcement measures applied, if necessary. The compliance continuum includes education sessions, issuing payment orders for any wages and other amounts owed, compliance orders, and the potential use of administrative monetary penalties.

The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with Parliamentarians, stakeholders, employers, and unions to strengthen Canada’s federally regulated workplaces and is committed to fairer and safer working conditions for everyone across the country.

Open for signature
June 6, 2023, at 3:11 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
July 6, 2023, at 3:11 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Taylor Bachrach (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
September 21, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01644)
Government response tabled
November 3, 2023
Photo - Taylor Bachrach
Skeena—Bulkley Valley
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia