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Two Canadian airlines using temporary foreign pilots

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s not just fast food joints hiring temporary foreign workers in Canada. The Air Line Pilots Association is hoping the federal government will change regulations as two Canadian airlines use hundreds of temporary foreign pilots every year.

“We don’t have the exact numbers, but we believe last season, the winter season, there was close to 200 foreign pilots at Sunwing, and approximately 25 to 30 at Canjet,” says Captain Dan Adamus. He adds the airlines are able to hire foreign workers because they require pilots to have ratings required to fly a Boeing 737-NG. Adamus says that training is generally provided by the company after hiring because it can cost up to $40,000. He says securing pilots who already have the required training is much more economical for the airlines.

Even so, Adamus says there are Canadian pilots with the proper rating. “We feel that there’s qualified Canadians who can do the work. And we’ve been lobbying the government for many years trying to make sure that happens. Canadians should be first in line for these jobs.”

The other part of the reason the two discount airlines aren’t hiring Canadian workers according to Adamus is they only employ pilots during peak travel periods, not year round like other similar discount companies.

The issue came to light when Press Progress released a memorandum dated October 28, 2013, to the Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney about the two airlines securing foreign pilots despite the association claiming systematic exclusion of Canadian counterparts. The memorandum states the 737-NG aircraft is not commonly flown in Canada, so most local pilots cannot apply for jobs, but stakeholders have confirmed to the government it is unusual to require a specific rating in applications.

The memorandum states the the government intended to issue a statement indicating all future applications for foreign applicants should be submitted six months before work commences, but it’s unclear whether that happened.

Adamus says he’s hopeful round-table discussions on the issue with Economic Social Development Canada several months ago will bring about changes. This as the federal government makes changes the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in light of recent abuses.

Neither airline returned calls or emails for comment.