Airline: The Last Six Months
Of Federal Activity

About

This Report

This is a computer-generated report that shows all of the federal activity with respect to the keyword "Airline" over the last six months. This is a demonstration of the power of our government relations automation software.

Hansard

House: 103 Speeches
Senate: 11 Speeches

House Senate

Bills

Active: 0

Regulations

Filed: 0
Proposed: 1

Proposals

The House

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.)

November 20th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...r the others that will be necessary. In essence, Canada's no-fly list currently piggybacks onto the airlines' computer systems, which means that the government does not control the fields to be included nor the way that the whole system works. This bill would give us the authority we need to allow the government, instead of airlines, to screen passenger information against the no-fly list. The people who have been affected...”

Hon. Erin O'Toole (Durham, CPC)

November 20th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“Mr. Speaker, the government is in the process of passing an airline passenger bill of rights, which says it is a right for a child to be seated next to their parent on an airline. However, because the Liberals refuse to fix the no-fly list, some of those kids will not ev...”

Mrs. Karen McCrimmon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Lib.)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... irritants faced by air passengers. These rights would be easy to understand and uniform across all airlines and all flights, domestic and international.

Canadians understand that in certain circumstances airlines do not have full control over events, such as weather, emergency, and security incidents, or even medical emergencies, but even then Canadians have a right to a certain level of protection when they travel. In other circumstances, when the carrier makes commercial decisions that may have an impact on the passenger, Canadians expect fair compensation for any inconvenience they experience.

Should Bill C-49 receive royal assent, the minister has received assurances from the agency that they are committed to establishing the regulations on air passenger rights as soon as possible.

Bill C-49 specifies that the regulations would include provisions addressing passengers' most frequently experienced irritants: providing passengers with plain language information about carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; setting standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of denied boarding due to overbooking, delays, and cancellations, including compensation; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage; establishing standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; seating children close to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to develop standards for transporting musical instruments.[Translation]

The minister has been clear that the regulations would include provisions ensuring that no Canadian is involuntarily removed from an aircraft due to overbooking after they have boarded the aircraft. He has also been clear that airlines will be expected to fulfill their obligations to the passenger and, in cases where a passen...”

Mr. Alupa Clarke (Beauport—Limoilou, CPC)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...dam Speaker, some provisions of the bill attempt to respond to a specific situation. Sometimes, two airlines may be compelled to streamline their operations. For example, if there is a flight between Toronto and Atlanta, Delta Airlines and Air Canada could decide to merge their operations and offer a single route instead of two separate ones. That means that when a customer books a plane ticket, either Air Canada or Delta Airlines will get the contract.

When airlines merge their operations, even if it is just for one particular route, the competition commissioner must determine whether so doing will reduce the competition on the market and he must also ensure that this will not drive up prices for consumers.

Under this bill, the minister would have the final say as to whether this sort of action is in the public interest or not. I would therefore like to know how the Liberals define the notion of public interest when airlines want to merge routes.”

Hon. Judy A. Sgro (Humber River—Black Creek, Lib.)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ortation into 2030 and the future. The bill would be an expansion of economic opportunities for the airlines, our shippers, and our railways. Much of this focuses on the economic side.

Would the parliamentary secretary elaborate a bit more on the passenger bill of rights, which we all know is extremely important as we move forward with more transportation challenges? How would that better protect the interests of Canadians when they book flights with airlines?”

Mr. Tom Kmiec (Calgary Shepard, CPC)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...motive, and was moved to commemorate CP's history.

The bill, because it deals with railroads, airlines, and transportation, is omnibus legislation. The minister said yesterday that 90% of the bill dealt with one facet. However, it would go on to amend so many other pieces of legislation, some of which really do not deal so much with safety as with competition and the relationship between a consumer and producer of a good or service provider. Therefore, when the minister says this, then it is an omnibus bill. It is kind of like introducing an infrastructure bank in a budget implementation bill. That makes the budget implementation bill an omnibus bill. Therefore, the Liberals cannot deny that this is another broken Liberal promise.

Yesterday I called it a trick or treat bill. It is offering something that supposedly will resolve an issue or problem in the marketplace, a user-experience problem, but it is not so much the treat but the trick. It would not resolve the issues the Liberals believe it would.

The general opinion I have heard on the bill, from editorialists and critics on passenger rights and the service provided by different railroads, is that the proposed legislation will not meet the goals set out by the government. It might be a step in the right direction sometimes, but it is one step forward and two steps back.

As I had mentioned in my commentary for the parliamentary secretary, all the reasonable amendments put forward by Conservative members were voted down. The three that were not were subamended by Liberal members. I had put forward very similar ideas. The Liberals had heard a very similar concept from witnesses. They are actually changing it from seven to two days and one year to 180 days. These are highly technical date and number amendments done at committee. It is not the type of work I have seen with other pieces of legislation, such as the Senate private member's bill that dealt with the Magnitsky Act. There was far more back and forth and substantive amendments were made.

I know many members expect this, so I have a Yiddish proverb. “To every answer you can find a new question.” I will lead off the rest of my intervention on this proverb.

The more I hear answers from the government and various members on all sides, the more questions I have about the goals of the bill and where it will go. With every answer, I have even more questions. Therefore, I have some rhetorical questions that I will share with the House. (1115)

I read a May Globe and Mail editorial called the bill “a strange beast”. Yesterday, I called it the “demogorgon” from Stranger Things, a show I highly recommend for all members of the House, although not for young children.

The bill works at cross-purposes. Editorialists mentioned that the costs might be reduced on one end but would go up on the other end. Hopefully, competition will increase, which is a goal of this legislation. I do not think it will achieve that. The government hopes more people will be enticed to use airline services and choose to fly instead of drive.

Security fees will go up, which is a disincentive for air passengers. However, cost is only one issue for passengers. There is also the user's experience and accessibility. Access, in general, is a point we should always remember.

The bill talks about a higher max amount for foreign ownership being changed for Canadian airlines. Although it is a step in the right direction, it is only one step.

Higher equity stakes by themselves do not lead to more competition, and that is important to remember. Allowing international investors to own a bigger portion of current companies will not lead necessarily to more competition. It is a goal. What we need is a level playing field to allow an opportunity for new airlines and joint ventures.

I have much more to say about joint ventures because the bill gets that balance wrong. It puts the onus on the wrong person. More government involvement in the private sector in business is not the correct way to structure the economy in general.

As well, new entrants will look at taxation and a solid, stable business environment. That is something the fall economic statement does not envision for the future of Canada. GDP is going down every year. There is a gap between the first budget the Liberals tabled in the House and the following budgets, such that GDP growth goes up one year and the next year it goes down drastically. Today is Halloween, so I find these GDP growth numbers spooky.

A few provisions in the bill directly affect how joint ventures will be agreed to. It gives the minister of transport a role in approving applications for airline joint ventures, where two independent companies arrive at a negotiated agreement to provide a service to customers in Canada. Injecting the Minister of Transport into such a process is the wrong way to go. We already have the Competition Bureau to ensure there will be an increase in competition. We should not be involving more ministers of the crown in business decisions. There should be less government involvement in the business sector and the private economy.

The Government of Canada's answer has been that this will be good for business. This brings back the Yiddish proverb that it begs more questions. If the solution is that more government involvement will create more competition and thus be good for customers, then why politicize the process by putting a minister of the crown in the position where he or she has to decide whether a joint venture goes forward? Why inject the minister into a business decision?

The exact reverse is being done in the energy infrastructure approval process where everything is being delegated down to the National Energy Board. We can see the results of this. There is a complete paralysis in companies going ahead with the approval and construction of new projects. A lot of companies are concerned about going forward with new projects being considered in their shops and offices. They have not yet gone to the regulator to propose them. They are concerned that they will be unable to meet the new rules the NEB keeps creating, or that the costs of meeting them will be high.

This does not improve the business environment. Rather, it is worsen it. It would be much better to level the field, reduce political involvement, and ensure business certainty is provided. I do not think injecting the minister into joint venture provisions and allowing him or her to have a say over whether a joint venture can go ahead is the right way. (1120)

Most of the amendments were put forward after the committee had heard from witnesses, but I really want to dispel the notion that this bill, as it stands, is a product of bipartisanship or collaboration between the parties. Although I am sure there is collaboration at committee in terms of the discussions back and forth and that everything is cordial and collegial, there still have to be substantive differences between the opposition and the government, and there were on this issue. The opposition parties provided substantive amendments that could have been considered more seriously by the government caucus members for approval. Then we could say the bill was truly due to a collegial bipartisan effort and that the product is good.

What do passengers care about? That is the goal of the bill. Members were asking themselves what passengers and producers care about when dealing with railroads, but especially asked this question with respect to air passengers, because more and more Canadians are travelling by air. Cost, access, and user experience I think are the three most important things. Cost comes down to the dollar amount. There is opportunity to shop on different websites and I think everyone considers how many points they will get. We know that Canadians love their points, whether from Mastercard, Visa, Aeroplan, or Air Miles. Whatever they are, people in this country like to collect points, and it goes into the total cost.

Access comprises the ease of the travel, the convenience, and the airport services. Who can travel and how are other considerations. I choose an airline based on my ability to sit with my kids. I have three young kids and I want to make sure that I do not have to rush to the airport early to get them assigned seats. I want to make sure that they will all be sitting with me, so other passengers and I have an easier time travelling. I actually pick an airline based on the one that will give me the easiest time dealing with my three kids to make sure they can get through their experience.

As for the total user experience, Bill C-49 focuses only on user experience. This is not just my point. Massimo Bergamini, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, says that the bill focuses too much on air carriers and fails to recognize that the air traveller experience, as I mentioned, does not just start at the check-in phase and then end at baggage pickup. It is the total experience one has. That is far more difficult to get right in one piece of legislation and the bill before the House does not quite achieve that point, because it does not consider the end costs or the access component of it.

We should not sacrifice customer expectations. That point was raised by others, and I agree with it. We are always purchasing difference services and products, and critics of the bill have said that the passenger bill of rights is a band-aid solution. To the point of the Yiddish proverb, the government caucus says this will resolve customer expectation and service-delivery issues, but it begs the question of why we are doing this if critics are saying this is only a band-aid solution. What then is the best remedy? The best remedy is always more competition in the free market, which leads to more consumer choice. The solution is not more government, yet this bill would create more government. By setting out expectations, the government would be able to deliver on more fairness and would be able to police the airlines more effectively. On the railway side, the government would also be more involved in setting prices and telling the railroads how to deal with their customers.

The passenger bill of rights has a section called “Ministerial Directions”, and says, “The Minister may issue directions to the Agency to make a regulation under paragraph (1)(g) respecting any of the carrier’s other obligations towards passengers.” This is after listing a whole series of obligations. In the bill, “obligations” is a very general term. It says, “The Agency shall comply with these directions.” If, in the future, the minister decides that airlines have a new obligation they need to meet, whatever it could be, whether providing a certain type of meal, a certain type of seat, or a certain type of service beyond those enumerated, then the minister can give that direction.

Again, in a free market, we can shop around. That would be the best way to go forward. We have already seen this is in the tech sector. There are apps on our iPads and phones and when an app does not deliver what we expect, we delete it. We get rid of it and move on. Whatever costs we have sunk into it, we ignore them. Hopefully, it was free, though it is not always free, and then we move on. (1125)

The same thing applies to smart phones. There is broad competition phones between all of the different smart phone providers and software types offered. People pick and choose which ones they want based on the services offered, the functionality, cost, and ease of use of the phones, and sometimes the ease of transferring to another device when it comes time for an upgrade.

The same concept should apply to airlines and the services they provide, particularly if people are not satisfied with them. It is not necessarily just a matter of choosing between airlines, but also about choosing other modes of transportation. Depending which part of the country someone lives in, people will have different modes of transportation to choose from. If someone lives in the Windsor, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa corridor, they will have more choices. I have taken advantage of that and taken Via Rail in the past. As a westerner, it is quite an experience because we do not have those types of service levels. The distances are far greater. I could have flown but chose not to. I wanted to experience Canada, as well as the travel time it would take using passenger rail.

I have travelled throughout Europe using passenger rail as well. It is very convenient. Again, their governments are sometimes involved in setting prices, but mostly in dealing with disputes. There is far more competition in Europe. Encouraging competition and new entrants is more than just about the equity stakes allowed. It is a matter of the regulatory environment, fees, and taxes that new entrants will face. At the end of the day, it is about the ease of doing business.

I remember my time working at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, where people would not come to us complaining about taxes or to verify a specific regulation, although that would happen, but more about the total package. For example, there was the issue of how complicated it was for them as business owners to comply with regulations. That applies to the owners of small-, medium-, and large-sized businesses. If the large businesses are publicly traded companies, the owners will be looking at the quarterly bottom line, and their executive team will be looking at how easy it is to comply with different rules and whether they have the people to do it. Can they meet the expectations of both their customers and the government, and can they deal with their competitors?

I know that the equity stake issue has been used. Vancouver's Jetlines have said they want a higher equity amount in their specific case to capitalize their company. This is because airlines face cash flow crunches and need large volumes of passengers to make ends meet, and profitable routes are quite limited. To have a new entrant come in, companies need to be well capitalized to be able to compete. Therefore, in their particular case, it would be beneficial to them.

As I mentioned before, I think about this Yiddish proverb, and every answer we hear from the government caucus and members leads to more questions. More generally, why do we continue to worry about foreign ownership in airlines? I want to draw a parallel. We are not as worried about the devices we use that are not manufactured in Canada, with operating systems not made in Canada, or that sometimes have data that is not even stored in Canada. I do not hear vast amounts of complaining about that, because people generally like the services they receive from their smart phone providers and the different software they use on the phones, whether it be operating or business software, or other recreational features they use. We are not as concerned about where those components come from, where they are ultimately made, but at the end of the day we care about the user experience and the cost. Foreign ownership in that respect is not as important.

However, with airlines, we could achieve far more if we provided much looser foreign ownership rules. In the legislation itself, the government goes into a lot of detail trying to change it. It has been said that airlines are not at the commanding heights of the economy. I know the government changed some of the...”

Mr. Tom Kmiec

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...gency is then required to abide by these directives. Not only can new directives be issued, but the airlines can be forced to comply, without there even being an opportunity for members to study them ...”

Mr. Gagan Sikand

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ers use these smaller airports as their hubs. All of this could lead to more choice when purchasing airline tickets, more travel destinations for all travellers, including those from smaller cities, and lower prices for Canadian travellers. Additionally, there could also be benefits for airports and suppliers and the entire country, as more jobs are added to the Canadian economy.

Another improvement to the air travel sector in this bill is that it proposes a new transparent and predictable process for the authorization of joint ventures between air carriers, taking into account competition and wider public interest considerations. Joint ventures are a common practice in the global air transport sector. They enable two or more air carriers to coordinate functions on specific routes, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, and marketing and sales. In Canada, air carrier joint ventures are currently examined from the perspective of possible harm to competition by the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act. (1220)

Unlike many other countries, notably the United States, Canada's current approach does not allow for the consideration of the wider public interest benefits other than competition and economic impacts. Furthermore, the bureau's review is not subject to specific timelines. This raises concerns that the current approach to assessing joint ventures may make Canadian carriers less attractive to global counterparts as joint venture partners and may limit the ability of Canadian carriers to engage in this industry trend.

The bill before us in the House proposes amendments that would allow the minister to consider and approve air carrier joint ventures, taking into account competition considerations. On this latter concern, the current transport minister would work in close consultation with the commissioner of competition to ensure that he or she was properly informed regarding any concerns he or she may have with regard to competition. Air carriers that chose to have their proposed joint ventures assessed through the new process would be given clear timelines for an expected decision.

Providing Canada's air carriers with such a tool would also benefit the air traveller. By joining up networks, air carriers could allow seamless travel to a wide range of destinations and could reduce the duplication of functions. For Canadians, this could mean more seamless access to key global markets, easier inbound travel in support of tourism and business, and increased transiting traffic through our airports, thus increasing flight options.

Globally, airports are making unprecedented investments in passenger screening to facilitate passenger travel and to gain global economic advantages. Canada's largest airports have expressed interest in making significant investments in passenger screening, either through an additional workforce or technology innovation. Smaller airports have also shown interest in obtaining access to screening services to promote local economic development. In the last two years alone, 10 small airports across Canada have requested screening services.

The proposed amendments to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act are important, as they would create a more flexible framework to allow CATSA to provide these services on a cost-recovery basis, which would in turn allow Canada to maintain an aviation system that is both secure and cost-effective. It would also strengthen Canadian communities' competitiveness as they attracted new commercial routes.

That is not all the transportation modernization act would do. Bill C-49 proposes to mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in partnership with Transport Canada, new regulations to enhance Canada's air passenger rights. These new rules would ensure that air passenger rights were clear, consistent, and fair for both travellers and air carriers. When passengers purchase an airline ticket they expect and deserve that the airline will fulfill its part of the transaction. When that agreement is not fulfilled, passengers d...”

Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...his Liberal colleagues voted against an NDP amendment that would have, among other things, required airlines to reimburse passengers for the full price of a ticket when a flight was cancelled. It would seem to me that this would be a very logical and reasonable request of airlines. Why did the Liberals not support that NDP amendment?”

Mr. Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni, NDP)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... piece of legislation forward separately?

This legislation talks about joint ventures between airlines, a passenger bill of rights, and protecting the marine industry through transportation, whi...”

Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...deo and voice recorders in trains, a coastal trade act, port infrastructure, joint ventures between airlines, and a passenger bill of rights. Other than the common thread of transportation, these are ...”

Mr. Luc Berthold (Mégantic—L'Érable, CPC)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...Canadian air carriers; enable Transport Canada to examine and approve joint ventures by two or more airlines; update the Canadian freight system; require railway companies to install voice and video recorders in locomotive cabs; expand the authority of the Governor in Council to require major railway companies to provide information regarding rates; and amend the Canada Marine Act to permit port authorities to access the Canada Infrastructure Bank. (1240)

All of that is in the same bill. Whether one is for or against certain of those measures, voting is impossible. One may like some of them, but if one dislikes others, there is no way one can logically vote for this bill.

There is a fundamental lack of respect and clarity in all these measures, including the passengers' bill of rights that the government promised. The Liberals say the measure is a document that will protect travellers, but upon closer examination, one can see that is not necessarily the case. Precious little is known about this bill of rights. Nobody knows what it will look like or what penalties will be imposed on airlines if they break the rules.

Instead of putting forward something very clear, the government decided to let the Canadian Transportation Agency made the decisions. The agency will decide what is in the document and will flesh out the details, details that will affect every air traveller and every airline in Canada.

How can we have an intelligent discussion about a passengers' bill of right...”

Mr. Alupa Clarke (Beauport—Limoilou, CPC)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...the bill that caught my attention and that I would like to mention. First, with respect to allowing airlines to form international joint ventures, the bill will enhance the role of the Minister of Transport. How? Consider Delta Airlines and Air Canada, for example, each of which offers flights between Toronto and Atlanta. For ...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ing of cargo through our ports or the shipping of cargo and passengers on our rail system or in our airlines. In fact, with this legislation, yet another campaign commitment, the commitment to provide an air passenger bill of rights dealing with the issue in respect of passengers on airlines, is in fact being dealt with.

My question for the member is this. Would he not at the very least acknowledge that, whether it is in the legislation or regulation, at least now, for the first time, we are actually moving forward on protecting airline passengers?”

Mr. Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni, NDP)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“Mr. Speaker, I think we all agree that we need clear measures to discourage airlines from overbooking and forceably removing passengers from aircraft.

The NDP introduced a bill in the last Parliament that clearly set out the steps needed to establish a passenger bill of rights to do just that. We put forward amendments with concrete proposals in the bill so airlines would have to offer passengers the choice between a full refund and rerouting under comparable conditions when a flight was cancelled. If the airline did not comply with this, it would have to pay $1,000 in compensation to every passenger in addition to the refund. Also, if an aircraft were on the ground for more than an hour, the airline would have to provide passengers with adequate food, drinking water, and other refreshments. For each additional hour that the airline failed to comply with this, it would have to pay each passenger $100 in compensation. It see...”

Mr. Dan Vandal

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ll occur.

I believe the key to this whole bill is achieving a balance between the passengers, airlines, and carriers, although there is some flexibility built into it. Our minister has been crys...”

Mr. Gord Johns

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...is Liberal colleagues voted against the NDP amendment that would have, among other things, required airlines to reimburse the full price of a ticket when a flight was cancelled? It is a simple questio...”

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

October 31st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...me from a lot of different directions.

I also want to address the issue of joint ventures. If airlines want to propose a joint venture for a route, at present, the proposal is reviewed and ruled...”

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...e lots of other problems with this bill. To name one, for example, in the spirit of the season, the airline passenger bill of rights is extremely skeletal. It is opposed by all sides for not providing...”

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...realize that Bill C-49 removes the power of the Commissioner of Competition to challenge mergers of airline operations? Is he aware that by eliminating the commissioner's power, the same minister can approve an arrangement that could quite possibly increase the costs of airline tickets? How on earth is that of any benefit? Why on earth would the Liberals limit the amou...”

Hon. Marc Garneau

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ved at every stage of the process when we talk about a proposed change regarding joint ventures for airlines. It is clear, and perhaps my colleague has not had a chance to read the legislation, that w...”

Mr. Tom Kmiec (Calgary Shepard, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“.... Instead of increasing competition and providing for more opportunities for customers of different airlines to choose a different one if they do not get the service they want, the government's soluti...”

Hon. Marc Garneau

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...there are two critically important parts to the bill. One is allowing foreign ownership of Canadian airlines to go from 25% to 49%. That is specifically in order to increase competition. The second pa...”

Mrs. Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...will appreciate the passenger bill of rights, particularly with recent events that have happened on airlines.

I want to ask the minister how the amendments would increase the safety, effectivene...”

Hon. Marc Garneau

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure my colleague that we very clearly will not be holding the airlines accountable for situations that are beyond their control. They cannot control the weather. They cannot control an outage by NavCan, which provides air traffic control. They cannot control a security issue at the airport that closes down the airport. There are a number of situations that are beyond the control of the airline itself. It is definitely not our intent, and I will make sure that this does not happen, because we have already discussed many of these parameters. For events that are within the control of the airlines, passenger rights would have to be respected. We would not hold the airlines accountable for things they cannot control.”

Mr. Gagan Sikand (Mississauga—Streetsville, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...strengthened rights for air travellers. Canadian travellers want to know that when they purchase an airline ticket, the air carrier will, in fact, provide the services they have purchased. If the air carrier cannot deliver the purchased services, then the traveller must be provided with a certain standard of treatment and, in some cases, the traveller must receive compensation from the air carrier.

Canadian travellers also expect that they should not have to fight to get the service for which they have paid. As such, air passenger rights must be easy to understand and apply consistently to all airlines, domestic and international. They must apply to all flights from and within Canada and benefit all travellers.

Should Bill C-49 receive royal assent, the Canadian Transportation Agency will be mandated, in collaboration with Transport Canada, to develop a set of clear regulations to ensure a consistent framework for air passenger rights applicable to all carriers. As our government is committed to ensuring this regulatory process moves forward in an open and expeditious manner, further consultations will take place with stakeholders throughout Canada.

The regulations would enshrine standards of care and compensations in a variety of situations faced by air travellers. They would address some of the more frequent irritants, such as providing passengers with clear and concise information about air carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; establishing standards of treatment for passengers in cases of denied boarding, delays, and cancellations, including compensation for inconvenience in situations of overbooking; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage on both domestic and international flights; developing clear standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays; ensuring children under 14 years of age are seated in proximity to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to define their policies on the carriage of musical instruments.

Canada is not alone in legislating or regulating specific practices of the airline industry by establishing a framework of passenger rights. Other countries have developed guidelines or regulations to ensure that passengers receive a standard level of treatment for compensation when their flights are delayed or cancelled. This government, however, is committed to establishing air passenger rights that would make our country a world leader in how such irritants would be to be addressed.

For instance, under the regulations that would be developed for air passenger rights, provisions would be included to ensure that no passengers could be involuntarily removed from an aircraft after they boarded as a result of overbooking. If the airline cannot find a volunteer to give up his or her seat, it will need to pay compensation to reme...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ve something tangible and we are moving forward. This is good news for those who travel through our airlines.

Could my colleague provide his thoughts on how important it is that we move forward ...”

Ms. Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia—Lambton, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...f a travel fiasco, as I understand it, the legislation calls for them to sort out whether it is the airline's fault or the fault of another government agency. I am concerned about the administrative b...”

Mr. Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ment that the minister made, which I think he needs to expand upon, was his reference to the United Airlines incident. There was more than one incident, but specifically he mentioned the one where an individual was dragged off the plane. I do not believe that situation is addressed in the bill. If one is waiting on the tarmac in the airplane for over three hours, I believe it is dealt with, but as far as physically dragging somebody out of an airplane, I do not believe that is dealt with in the bill. He would perhaps like to provide further clarification on that at a later date.

Others also have concerns. I think Air Transat expressed a concern around the joint venture side of things, which is another area that needs to be fleshed out and further examined. With respect to foreign ownership, we always have debates on the proper threshold and amount of capital for a Canadian airline. It is set at 49%, and any individual entity can only own 25%. We will see how that unfolds. (1350)

If we are trying to modernize the act, some people would probably think that landing rights should be looked at as well. Over the last nine or 10 years, airlines like Emirates and others have requested more landing spots. Pearson, for example, would be one, and I do not believe that is addressed here either. As far as competition and pricing go for international flights, certainly competition has proven time and time again to bring in the best price and the best service.

The other criticism I have, and I am open to someone else proving me wrong, is the part that deals with the proposed air travellers bill of rights, including with in regard to flight delays, damaged or lost luggage, or passengers being on the tarmac for more than three hours. The bill does not specifically spell out what that compensation would look like. It does mention minimums, but those are left to regulation. I notice this is a recurring theme in some of the bills the government puts forward. Part of this will be gazetted and people will have an opportunity to comment on it, but if the minister feels so strongly about this as one of the key parts of the bill and an election promise, if he has been thinking about and focused on this for a long time, the least he could do is to provide air passengers or flight groups some framework or numbers from which they could work. That is the least he could do.

In addition, we all understand that there will be days like today or a couple of months ago when there were hurricanes in the U.S., and some of that weather came up to Toronto and Ottawa and messed up all the flights. People understand there are going to be adjustments made because of weather and that there is nothing we can do about it. However, from the time they recognize there is an issue, airlines can work with the people. That said, I do know know how we could compensate someone who takes take a week or eight days off and has two of those days messed up, one because of the weather and one because of the airline. From what the minister said, we are going to leave that up to the department and the agency...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...rding to internal documents from Transport Canada, pilot proficiency tests will be conducted by the airlines themselves, rather than by Transport Canada inspectors, which is at odds with the recommend...”

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...to correct my colleague. We are not getting rid of the function of checking the check pilots of the airlines. The member misunderstands what we have decided to do. Using a risk-based approach, we periodically conduct an airline safety audit. It is a much more intelligent approach and it is the approach that our governm...”

Ms. Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...anada is planning to stop evaluating pilots and will instead transfer the responsibility to private airline companies. Not only are the Liberals considering privatizing our airports, they are also pla...”

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...to correct my colleague. We are not getting rid of the function of checking the check pilots of the airlines, who check their own pilots. We are continuing to use this approach, because it is an intel...”

Mr. Darrell Samson (Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...portant issues that Canadians face and that we need to deal with, including consistency between our airline carriers, which is extremely important; passengers' rights; industry or carriers' rights as well; and when there are issues, the compensation. We need to bring some standardization to compensation, because it is not obvious if Canadians are being compensated for some of the challenges they face.

As I indicated earlier, we need to consider denial of boarding, delays and cancellations, baggage that is lost or damaged, tarmac delays, seating with family members or delicate cargo, such as musical instruments, etc. Those are major issues that we need to look at as a government. This bill will help us reach that objective.

Let us look at the issue we had last summer when a flight from Belgium to Montreal was diverted to Ottawa. The passengers stayed on the plane. They were told by the carrier there would be a delay of about 30 minutes. The 30 minutes continued on and on, and at the end of the day had become six hours. Throughout those six hours, the passengers were not able disembark from the plane, and the air conditioning stopped or broke down. They were running out of food and water. These are all critical things that passengers should be able to access at all times. Not being able to do so showed disregard for the passengers and their rights. We need to do something about that.

Not so long ago, we also saw on television a United Airlines flight on which a doctor, again because of a mistake by the carrier, was removed because of...”

Ms. Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... supported our bill and could have followed our example by introducing concrete measures to protect airline passengers. For example, when a flight is cancelled, the airline would have to offer passengers a choice between a full refund and re-routing under comparable conditions. Air carriers that failed to comply with this rule would have to pay $1,000 in compensation to every passenger, in addition to the refund. If an aircraft was held on the ground for more than one hour, the airline would have to provide passengers with adequate food, drinking water, and other refreshments. For each additional hour during which the airline failed to comply with that rule, it would have to pay each passenger $100 in compensation.

We also asked the government to implement protection measures immediately instead of delaying them until 2018. However, the minister chose not to propose concrete measures. Instead, he included provisions in the bill. The government sold it to the media and to Canadians as a passenger bill of rights, but that is simply misleading. The minister is delaying what needs to be done by handing over the responsibility for regulations to the Canadian Transportation Agency. When the CTA enacts inadequate regulations, it will give the minister a way out. That is not the political leadership Canadians expect.

What is disappointing is that the Liberals rejected our amendments without studying them, folding under pressure from the airlines.

The facts are clear that flights subject to the European regulations have a cancellation rate of 0.4%, which is four times lower than flights subject to the current Canadian regulations.

We have seen this government continuously abdicate its responsibility for airports. While the federal government does not manage them directly, it is up to the government to ensure a strategic vision, especially in a country as large as Canada. This vision must include every single size of airport, from Pearson to the local airports in my riding.

The communities of Campbell River, Comox, Port Hardy, and Powell River have expressed serious concerns about this continued pursuit of the for-profit privatization of our airports. These airports are essential elements of the social and economic infrastructure in our region. Representing many medium-sized and rural communities, air transportation provides a vital link that connects families and communities and promotes economic growth.

As a representative of the third largest riding in British Columbia, I have landed and taken off from several airports in my region, going to or returning from Ottawa. This is how I get to community events across the riding when travelling to and from this place.

These communities need these services, and as the government continues this privatization creep, they are connecting with me about their concerns. Campbell River recently shared with me that these privatization plans delay much-needed effective action on other issues, such as the burden of federal rents and fees on airlines and air travellers. These stand in the way of more competitive and economical air transportation in Canada.

There is still worse news in this bill regarding remote and rural airports. I think members can understand why I will not be supporting this bill as it stands. Bill C-49 would amend the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act. Instead of supporting the growth of regional airports, the government would use Bill C-49 to pass the buck for security screening to regional airports or the municipalities that own them. This policy would hurt rural economies, as the cost of security screening is so high that almost no small airport would be competitive if it had to pay the bill. The government is clearly stepping back from funding and developing regional airports. (1535)

Currently, the commissioner of competition has the power to determine whether a joint venture arrangement between airlines is anti-competitive and can subsequently apply to the Competition Tribunal to prohibit the joint venture. However, Bill C-49 would strip this power from the commissioner of competition. If Bill C-49 is adopted, the Minister of Transport would have the final word on proposed joint ventures between airlines. Once an arrangement was approved, the Competition Tribunal would no longer be able to prohibit it.

If Air Canada proposed an arrangement to merge its operations with those of an American company, even if the commissioner found that the agreement would lessen competition among airlines and increase ticket prices for passengers, the minister could approve the arrangement if the minister was satisfied that it was within the public interest. This is why the NDP proposed deleting clause 14 of Bill C-49, as it would expose consumers to unfair increases in airline ticket prices.

A decision by the minister to ignore the commissioner's advice could be influenced by political considerations to favour an airline at the expense of consumers. In addition, the bill does not spell out what is meant by the “public interest” as a basis for a decision by the minister to approve a merger of two airline operations. The concept of public interest is so broad that the minister could consider factors that are not in the interest of Canadians but rather in the interest of the shareholders of major airlines.

Bill C-49 would impact two elements in the marine industry. First, the bill would al...”

Ms. Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia—Lambton, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the price of an airline ticket. I am a little concerned when I see some of the provisions in the bill that would allow the airport authorities to basically buy screening services. I worry. In my riding, for example, there is only Air Canada. It is a monopoly situation. The price of a ticket there is nearly $1,000 to get to Ottawa, compared to being able to go to Florida for $200, if I wanted to.

Is the member concerned about the increase in airline ticket prices?”

Ms. Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia—Lambton, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...passengers, including delays, cancellations, lost or damaged baggage. I had a flight recently on an airline that was not Canadian, I am happy to say, but my bag arrived with the corner torn right off and I had to replace the luggage myself. There was no compensation for me on that one.

I am not sure that this, although well intentioned, will be able to be easily implemented. For every claim for compensation, it has to be determined whether it was the airline's fault, the government agency's fault, the fault of the weather. That is a huge administrative burden, and that usually means increased costs. Those increased costs typically get passed on to the people who are buying the airline ticket. I have a concern that some of the provisions, although well intentioned, will result...”

Mr. Sean Fraser (Central Nova, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...hoods. A number of these problems are being addressed in Bill C-49 and we are going to require that airlines make it known to the public how they can seek recourse when an airline falls below the standard expected for travellers who paid for quality service on their flight.

In addition, there is a key part of air travel that I wanted to hit on as well. We have changed the foreign ownership limits from 25% to 49%. This is going to encourage more investment by international companies in the Canadian air sector and potentially drive the cost of air travel down. We have already seen two discount airlines, when they qualified for this kind of an exemption under the previous rules, announce that ...”

Mr. Sean Fraser

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...e foreign ownership restriction that has been moved from 25% to 49%. We are already seeing discount airlines come into Canada. This is bringing the price down and increasing service to secondary markets that are not very well served or not served by discount airlines today.

The final question that he referenced was the need to prevent one person from ...”

Mr. Bob Saroya (Markham—Unionville, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...cs on the proposed air passengers' bill of rights, and is not supported in its current form by many airline passenger advocates, including Gabor Lukacs and Jeremy Cooperstock from the Consumers' Association of Canada. They oppose this bill, as they consider its measures of little value to support passengers. If advocates for an air passengers’ bill of rights do not support this, it speaks volumes to this legislation.

Port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries will be able to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada infrastructure bank. My Conservative colleagues and I strongly oppose the creation of an infrastructure bank.

A further concern that is raised by this bill is that of staffing. The Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada will require significant new staffing to handle all the additional data collection and regulatory powers this legislation introduces.

This bill would lead to drastic changes in every means of transportation. With respect to air transportation, in particular, I have a few concerns. This bill does not specify the compensation levels for passengers under the proposed bill of rights. Voting for this bill would give the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency a blank cheque to set monetary compensation for passengers in the future with no oversight. That is wrong.

The bill also raises a concern that the Minister of Transport will have significant new powers to approve or overrule proposed joint ventures between airlines. This will lessen the role of the independent and non-partisan Competition Bureau. (1645)

Further, the bill would allow airport authorities to charge airlines and passengers for extra security lanes. This has the potential to lead to new airport secu...”

Mr. Bob Saroya

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“Mr. Speaker, there is very little to the airline passengers' bill of rights. If someone is stuck in Toronto international airport or somewher...”

Mr. Bob Saroya

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...l. I am strongly suggesting that we go back to look into the questions from the railway lines, the airlines, and the people who are questioning the bill. We should go back and re-evaluate the bill.

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ly have expressed great concerns about some of the discomfort and problems they have faced with the airlines. Now we have a piece of legislation that would enable us to address many of the problems ou...”

Mr. Bob Saroya

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...tion? We are looking for crystal clear stuff. This all depends on the minister or his staff, or the airlines. We are doing this now. Why would we want to go back again tomorrow? Let us finish the job ...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... covers a number of areas, but that one really came to mind for me. (1700)

The other area is airlines and the idea of having an airline passenger bill of rights in place. This legislation contains a mechanism that would enable that bill of rights to happen. I see that as a strong and encouraging aspect of the legislation.

Most MPs do a considerable amount of flying, some more than others, depending on their proximity to Ottawa. I do not know how many stories I have heard over the years in regard to issues that have arisen between airlines and passengers. Passengers are quite upset because of the lack of recourse. Airlines have some restrictions in place that often lead to complications. Things are beyond one's control when it comes to nature. However, in many cases, airlines need to be held more accountable. That is why it is encouraging to see within this legislation things that will protect the interests of consumers and ultimately producers.

My colleague raised the issue of the Canada infrastructure bank and the opportunities there for our ports and others. He also talked about how this legislation would enable future investments. These things are critically important.

If we take the time to do this right and we invest in things such as infrastructure, or offer opportunities for investment in infrastructure through things such as the Canada infrastructure bank, then we will be creating all sorts of opportunities. We can talk about those opportunities in terms of the jobs directly affiliated with the construction of a particular project; they are tangible and easily seen. However, the jobs that can be created as an indirect result are equal to or quite often greater than that, especially if we are talking about issues surrounding our ports.

There is a huge demand for modernizing and improving our ports, and it would be at a substantial cost. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Bringing in legislation that could potentially enhance that development opportunity, the flow of goods both into and out of our country, is a positive thing. That would assist us in creating good, solid middle-class jobs that are necessary to drive our economy.

I am pleased with the policies that this government has put in place over the last couple of years, and their impact on Canada, on our middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, and on those who are finding it more challenging. At the end of the day, literally hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created. We are seeing many benefits in terms of full-time jobs that are being created.

Bill C-49 would do many things, and I could list some of them, but I will not have time because I know the Speaker wants me to sit down. The point is that the bill caters to our airlines, our ports, and our railways, and members opposite would be best advised to get behind this...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ting and ultimately passing legislation that is going to assist in enacting that protection for our airline passengers.

We recognize that in good part it will be done through regulations. There ...”

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ation Act, giving the minister of transport the power to approve joint-venture arrangements between airlines. This is worrisome, because that type of arrangement could proceed with the minister's approval even if the commissioner of competition found that it was anti-competitive, and it could increase the price of airline tickets. Let me repeat: it would give the minister of transport the final word on proposed joint ventures between airlines, and once an arrangement was approved, the Competition Tribunal could no longer prohibit it.

The NDP proposed deleting clause 14 of Bill C-49, because it would expose consumers to unfair increases in airline ticket prices, yet that clause remains. The bill would also increase the limit on foreign ownership of Canadian airlines from 25% to 49%, despite a University of Manitoba study, published on Transport Canada's own website, that demonstrated that this measure would have no positive impact on competition.

Most concerning, Bill C-49 would amend the Railway Safety Act to allow railway companies to use video and voice recorders, and despite the fact that the bill would risk violating section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by authorizing the government or employers to collect private information without instituting adequate protections, the Liberals rejected NDP amendments to limit the use of these recorders.

Locomotive voice and video recordings should be accessible only to the Transportation Safety Board. There is nothing to stop individual railway companies from using them to attack workers' rights. In fact, there are a number of precedents in which CN and CP have attempted to attack workers' rights and privileges. New Democrats object to clause 14 for this reason.

If the government were truly serious about improving railway safety, it would revise the standards regarding train operator fatigue. Train operators are under pressure from employers to work unreasonable hours, and as such, this demand by employers represents a real danger to the safety of workers and the public.

There is a better way. Canada needs and deserves an affordable, accessible, reliable, and sustainable system of public rail transit, and Canadians have the right to the highest levels of service, protection, and accessibility of travel that can be provided. Instead, we see the erosion of infrastructure due to the neglect and corporate offloading of maintenance responsibilities, and passengers are subjected to the cancellation of rail services across the country.

Canada has a growing population, families with children, disabled Canadians, and senior citizens who need to travel. At the same time, Canadians are conscious of the environmental legacy we are creating for future generations. With proper stewardship and a visionary plan, we have the very real potential to revive our once thriving rail-travel industry. However, that kind of vision requires a federal government focused on national stewardship, rather than what both Liberal and Conservative governments did when they sold off national interests and pandered to those who bankrolled their campaigns. (1715)

It is because we need reliable rail service that I have drafted and tabled Bill C-370, which would create a clear mandate for VIA Rail Canada. Canadians are weary of the refusal by the current government, as well as Conservative and Liberal governments in the past, to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits of a truly enhanced, integrated, accessible, and sustainable rail transit system that would far outweigh and outlive short-term political gain. Past governments have failed to understand that everyone, from the youngest Canadian to the seasoned commuter, benefits if rail travel is part of our future. I can tell members that this reality is not lost on the citizens of London and southwestern Ontario. They are the people who suffer from what is described, in the network southwest action plan, as the “mobility gap”.

Bill C-370 would provide the opportunity for Canadians and the current Parliament to evaluate cases where VIA Rail planned to eliminate a required router station. In addition, my bill would provide a legislative framework for VIA Rail's mandate as a crown corporation to make services mandatory, set minimum frequencies for certain itineraries, and increase levels of service with regard to punctuality. It would provide a transparent and democratic means to evaluate any proposed cancellation of service routes and a framework for managing and funding VIA Rail. It would help prioritize passenger trains where and when there were conflicts with freight trains and would create efficiencies. I encourage members on all sides of this House to support Bill C-370 when it comes to the floor for second reading.

In a previous parliament, the NDP introduced a bill setting out clear steps to establish a passenger bill of rights. The current Minister of Transport supported our bill. He could have followed our lead and introduced concrete measures to protect airline passengers but instead handed off responsibility for making regulations to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The NDP proposal for a passenger bill of rights included measures to ensure that airlines would have to offer passengers the choice between a full refund and re-routing under comparable conditions when flights were cancelled. Air carriers that failed to comply would have to pay $1,000 in compensation to every passenger affected, in addition to the refund. Also, when an aircraft was held on the ground for more than one hour, the airline would have to provide passengers with adequate food, drinking water, and other refreshments, as well as compensation of $100 for each additional hour the flight was held on the ground.

Witness testimony tells us that such measures could result in flight cancellation rates four times lower than those experienced in Canada. The Liberals heard this testimony in committee, yet they rejected amendments from the NDP based on this solid evidence. It leads me to wonder what their motivation was and where their loyalties lie.

It is unacceptable for the government to shift the responsibility of protecting passenger rights to the Canadian Transportation Agency. Passengers and airlines need clear measures to discourage overbooking, and we need those measures now. The minister...”

Ms. Irene Mathyssen

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...g to work for the travelling public of our country. In terms of the passenger bill of rights in the airline industry, it needs to be better and stronger. First steps are fine, but we do not get many c...”

Mr. Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West, CPC)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... the bill under the guise of passenger protection, referring constantly to the much-reported United Airlines incident where someone was dragged from the plane, as if something like that had happened here.

He also tries to pretend that government regulation is what is needed to prevent those situations in Canada. We all have our own horror stories of airline travel. What would address this issue is not half-hearted regulations, but more competition.

Changing the foreign ownership limit to 49%, up from 25%, is a good start, but why limit it at all? If we want improved service and other issues, then open up the market to more competition. We saw how this worked when WestJet entered the market. Nothing has done more to force better pricing and service from airlines across the country than having WestJet expand across Canada.

Why not focus on this, instead of measures that are rolled out populist-style to take advantage of consumer sentiment influenced by a viral video.

A University of Toronto report has found that relative to Americans, we often pay between 50% and 100% more for comparable travel between Canadian cities. Various expert reviews of the airline industry, including by the Competition Bureau, have recommended allowing a right of establishment for foreign carriers on domestic routes to put pressure on our airlines to improve.

The airlines might argue that foreign carriers would only operate on lucrative routes. However, Canadian carriers are under no obligation to fly to money-losing destinations currently, and there is no proof that the airlines are presently cross-subsidized to operate otherwise unprofitable routes.

One of the problems of this part of the bill is that it amends the Canada Transportation Act with regard to joint ventures, taking away decision-making authority from the Commissioner of Competition, and places the power in the hands of the minister. Yes, giving the minister the power to interfere for political reasons is just what is needed to improve airline service and lower rates—said no one ever.

The CAA, the Canadian Automobile Association, notes that the Bill C-49 relies on a complaint from a passenger in order to trigger action. The Canadian Transportation Agency cannot initiate domestic investigations on its own. Advocates and organizations can not intervene and each complaint is handled as a one-off, adding time and delays.

It is worth noting that the CTA was able to initiate hearings into the recent infamous Air Transat situation only because it concerned an international flight. The CTA would not have the authority, even under Bill C-49, to decide itself to hold a hearing into a similar situation if the flight occurred within Canada. Nor would the CTA be able to examine any broader systemic issues the CTA might note that did not come from a specific complaint and would have to ask the minister for permission to investigate them.

Noted passenger rights advocate, Gabor Lukacs, says the bill is “smoke, mirrors and has no teeth”, and contains no provisions about the enforcement of rights of the passengers. He says, “This strikes me as an an attempt to shield airlines from complaints and further prevent the public from ensuring their right.”:

He says that Bill C-49 contains no provisions about the enforcement and that it passes the buck to the Canadian Transportation Agency to establish standards at some point in the future. What we need is more competition, not relatively toothless regulations basically responding to a United Airlines' video that went viral.

We do not need regulations that will increase airport costs a...”

Mr. Chandra Arya (Nepean, Lib.)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...wnership of air carriers, from 35% to 49%, while ensuring that no single foreign entity or group of airlines could own more than 25% of the airline stake. At the same time, it would ensure that speciality air carriers, like firefighting air...”

Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, NDP)

October 30th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...r current Canadian regulations. It seems clear that the Liberals are giving in to pressure from the airlines and turning a blind eye to the studies on the issue.

Bill C-49 would also require railway companies to install voice and video recorders in the locomotive cabs. This seems to make sense for dealing with accidents, but it must not prompt the railways to use this information for surveillance or disciplinary purposes. That is why we are calling for the use of these voice and video recordings to be reserved exclusively for the Transportation Safety Board.

The provisions of Bill C-49 are not clear enough and do not spell out how the train conductors' private information will be used by the railways. For example, the minister could decide by regulation that a train conductor's hourly productivity is something to take in consideration in a safety review. Following that reasoning, Via Rail Canada could use this data to manage employee performance, for example, during a stop at the Saint-Hyacinthe station.

The employees are refusing to give up their right to privacy. The government is not listening to the testimony of people like Roland Hackl, vice-president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. According to him, the bill, as currently drafted, goes against the employees' rights as Canadians, and he is right. Bill C-49 might be in contravention of section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it would authorize the government or employers to gather private information without providing adequate protections. What is more, according to the findings of a Transport Canada working group, voice and video recordings are not part of proactive safety management.

The NDP therefore proposed a series of amendments to ensure that only the Transportation Safety Board could have access to the recordings in the event of an accident. Our amendments would also guarantee that the minister and the railways would not be able to use the voice and video recordings. Obviously, the Liberals in committee once again summarily dismissed these proposals.

I would like to talk about the change in the agreement between the airlines included in Bill C-49. Currently, the competition commissioner may make an application to the Competition Tribunal to propose the rejection of a merger of airline companies that stifles competition. The Competition Tribunal therefore has the authority to cancel a merger or a part thereof. However, under Bill C-49, the Minister of Transport will now have the final say in the matter. (1745)

As soon as the minister approves the agreement, the Competition Tribunal can do nothing to stop it. The NDP is opposed to clause 14 of the bill because it gives the minister the power to supervise and authorize joint ventures between airlines.

Imagine if Air Canada submitted a proposal to merge with United Airlines. Even if the commissioner found that the agreement would reduce competition among airlines and could raise ticket prices, the minister could still approve the merger if he or she deemed it to be in the “public interest”. I challenge the minister to provide a precise definition of that term. In Bill C-49, it is so vague that the minister could include reasons that are not in Canadians' interest but in the interest of shareholders of major airlines. The Liberal government is trying to erode our consumer watchdog's authority.

Bill C-...”

Mrs. Kelly Block (Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...s bill. I will be suggesting four amendments, as they were moved. The first of these has to do with airline joint ventures. Joint ventures, while sometimes useful for creating efficiencies for airlines on routes in the air passenger industry, can also run the risk of comprising consumer interests due to the loss of competition on a given route, and the ensuing increase in ticket prices.

That is why the decision to grant or deny an application for a joint venture has historically been left in the hands of the very capable Competition Bureau and the Commissioner of Competition. Bill C-49 would change that. If the bill were to pass in its current form, the Minister of Transport would have the final say on whether or not two airlines could combine routes and share cost and profit.

Further, this bill stipulates that th...”

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Simcoe—Grey, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...>With respect to this bill, and clause 14 that amends the Canada Transportation Act with respect to airline joint ventures, it takes the final decision-making authority pertaining to joint ventures away from the Commissioner of Competition and gives it to the Minister of Transport. In giving the Minister of Transport that final authority with respect to airline joint ventures, the clause mandates the minister to keep the act in the public's interest, b...”

Mrs. Kelly Block

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...c interest.

A potential effect of clause 14 would be that Canadian consumers might have fewer airlines to choose from on certain routes. As a result, Canadians might face higher costs for air tr...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... commissioner. Those who followed the case will remember the joint venture agreement between United Airlines and Air Canada that the competition commissioner ruled on. He said that a number of routes ...”

Hon. Michael Chong (Wellington—Halton Hills, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...undertakings providing air services. In other words, section 14 involves joint ventures between two airlines, joint ventures that allow airlines to co-operate in terms of sharing routes, frequent flier programs, and revenue-sharing and cost-sharing.

This is not an insignificant section of the bill. This is a major change to competition law. Section 14 of Bill C-49 makes major changes to the Competition Act.

I want to take a step back and explain why I think this is so concerning. The Competition Bureau is a very important organization. It ensures fair competition in Canada. It ensures that Canadian consumers and Canadian companies operate in a marketplace where they can prosper, a marketplace where there is sufficient competition, and a marketplace that delivers lower prices and more choices for consumers and companies.

Canada has long had a strong legal tradition and strong framework legislation in the area of competition law. We introduced competition law before the United States did in the 19th century, and throughout the last 150 years we have continually strengthened that competition law in order to ensure that we do not see anti-competitive behaviours in the marketplace.

I remember in 2004 when the then-minority government of prime minister Paul Martin was in place. It introduced a bill that would modernize competition law with the introduction of administrative monetary penalties that would work in place of, and alongside of, Criminal Code penalties that have a much higher threshold of proof.

While that legislation did not pass, the subsequent Harper government introduced similar legislation that was eventually adopted, and administrative monetary penalties are now part of our competition law. Canada has long had a strong tradition of ensuring competitive marketplaces. We are also seen around the world as leaders in competition law enforcement and ensuring that companies cannot abuse their marketplace position.

It is with great concern that I read section 14 of this bill that is in front of us, because it would weaken the bureau. The bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. This bill would actually take power away from the Competition Bureau and the commissioner of competition, and give it to the Minister of Transport. Not only that, it would allow the Minister of Transport to ignore competition concerns and to approve airline joint ventures.

The reason why this is so very concerning is that we know that more competition and a more competitive marketplace leads to lower prices and more choice for Canadian consumers. If we look at the history of airline policy in this country, we have come a long way over the last 30 years.

Privatization and increased competition have given Canadians more choice and lower prices in the airline industry. We started with deregulation in the 1980s, we privatized Air Canada in 1988, we spun out of Transport Canada the airports across this country in 1992, we established independent airport authorities in the 1990s, and because of that, there have been literally tens of billions of dollars of investment in airports and in airlines in this country.

For example, in the early 1990s, some $50 million a year was being spent on airport improvements. Since airports were spun out of the Department of Transport in 1992, over $14 billion has been invested in Canadian airports. The same is true of Air Canada. It is a much better airline today than it was in the 1980s when it was heavily regulated and not subject to competition, and owned by the Government of Canada. Today it is a much better airline, and it is a better airline because it has been subject to competition. (1615)

However, the job is not yet done. It is clear through numerous studies that the Canadian travelling public is still paying far too high a price to get from A to B in this country. That is why section 14 of the bill is so very concerning. It is going to lead to less competition, increased prices, and less choice for the travelling public, which runs counter to the effort that we made over the last number of decades to increase competition and lower prices for Canadians.

I want to give an example to illustrate this point. In 2011, Air Canada wanted to enter into a joint venture with United Continental that would allow them to share many transborder routes between Canada and the United States, and Canada and other destinations. That joint venture was fully reviewed by the Competition Bureau and the bureau demanded that certain conditions be put on that joint venture. The bureau in its review concluded that 10 cross-border routes between Canada and the United States would be less competitive for Canadian consumers because Air Canada and United Continental would be subject a monopoly and nine other routes would be subject to less competition than currently is the case.

The bureau refused to approve the joint venture unless certain routes were exempted, so the consent agreement that was entered into between the parties and the Competition Bureau exempted 14 cross-border routes from this joint venture, ensuring that on those 14 cross-border routes there was sufficient competition for Canadian consumers. The bill in front of us today would allow the minister to override the bureau and to approve these joint ventures without any conditions to ensure sufficient competition.

If we take a step back from this and we ask ourselves why the government is doing this, it seems to me that one of the reasons is that it has become a bit of a political “scratch my back and I will scratch yours” game. The government pressured Air Canada to buy 75 C Series jets from Bombardier in order to help the government politically with the problem it had with Bombardier. Fearing that the company was entering a dangerous period of insolvency, the government put a lot of pressure on a private sector company to purchase these 75 C Series jets.

I suspect that in return two bills were introduced in Parliament. I think the government needs to come clean on whether or not there was a quid pro quo in this arrangement. Air Canada buys these jets and in return the government introduces two bills, Bill C-10, which lifted the requirement for Air Canada to have maintenance facilities in certain cities in this country, and Bill C-49, which has section 14 that would allow the Minister of Transport to approve joint ventures without any conditions to ensure sufficient competition.

This would be a real step back for competition law. It would weaken competition particularly when it comes to future joint ventures that airlines in this country may enter into. It would lead to higher prices for Canadian consumers and l...”

Mr. Martin Shields (Bow River, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...that already have security screening services buy additional screening, that cost is shifted to the airlines. The airlines then pass it on to consumers. This provision would essentially be a veiled tax on air travellers.

I respect that the government intends to benefit air passengers by introducing this bill. However, it would leave what compensation passengers would be entitled to from the airlines to the discretion of the minister and the CTA. This would be extensive government intervention. We cannot risk those well-intentioned measures actually making air travel more expensive through ad hoc decisions. The CTA would have to determine on a case-by-case basis if a service breach was the fault of the airline or of any other factors. We need a charter of rights. We need it up front. People need to kn...”

Mr. Martin Shields

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“Mr. Speaker, the airline passenger bill of rights would be a critical piece for consumers in Canada who travel on the airlines. They would know up front what the results would be for delays and lost luggage. People nee...”

Mr. Alain Rayes (Richmond—Arthabaska, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...cy.

The Canadian Transportation Agency will therefore not be able to consult consumer groups, airlines, airports, or any other stakeholder in the sector, only the Minister of Transport. That is not all. The minister is also giving himself extensive powers to approve joint ventures between airlines. That power traditionally belongs to the Competition Bureau, which should also be independent and non-partisan, and certainly operate at arm's length from the Minister of Transport.

The lack of integrity and transparency in the process is quite apparent, but mostly it is troubling. If the minister cannot bear to allow the agency to establish its own standards, he should simply present them to the House and give all members a say on the matter.

There is another false message: the purpose of the bill is to reduce travel costs for Canadians, while improving service, and yet the reverse could happen. The costs related to the bill could force consumers to pay more, since they will have to pay for the new regulations, for example, regarding overbooking. (1640)

If the goal is to enable Canadians to travel for less, why not just lower taxes for airline companies, which already have a narrow profit margin, by cancelling the carbon tax, for exam...”

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...We also have other things that could become quite problematic with respect to consumer rights. An airline passenger bill of rights is included in the legislation by name, and name only. It is a good example of what the government is proposing, namely, doing things by regulation, with no enforcement, no real law and, at the end of the day, nothing for consumers.

I will follow up a little on the people that consumers should contact about those types of situations in the future. If consumers have a problem with their airline and any type of compensation or problem related to it, they should contact the Liberals. The Liberals will own all of these problems directly, because they are willfully passing this on to the regulator. They will be the voice in the future to address any particular problems to that consumers face.

It is clever, because they are avoiding the responsibility of a real passenger bill of rights, which should have been done in a separate piece of legislation, with a rules-based system that is very clear and legislated. By doing it this way they are thinking they can say it is just a matter for the regulators and that they have nothing to do with it. However, the public could become quite educated about this process when they have a problem with the regulation in force. They would just need to see their Liberal member or to call another Liberal member somewhere else to get that direct input, because the Liberals are going to pass this piece of legislation with that knowledge. That will be the only real route to have input on anything, ranging from being delayed to not having one's rights observed, to being stuck on the tarmac for unlimited time, and so forth. All of those things, in terms of regulation, will basically be set through the minister. That is going to be a curse that the Liberals brought upon themselves once members of the public become a little more educated about how to actually respond to their particular situations.

With regard to report stage, the bill went back to committee and several pieces of legislation were dealt with in separate sections, which are important for Canadians to understand. One of them was the arrangements between airlines that would be allowed. We had amendments on that to challenge what would take place, because we will see less accountability in regard to airline mergers and ownership, and there will be no oversight to ensure that passengers and/or competition thrive. In fact, this bill would be a disincentive to competition, because it would take away that accountability and review by the tribunal.

The bill would strip away powers from an independent body that ensures competition in the airline industry, a body that would at least examine those issues and bring them to the minister, wh...”

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...d like to know exactly what happened and, hence, their access to what we know as a black box in the airline industry, but as a video and voice recorder on the trains.

What impact, however, might...”

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...me is right. We all know that over the last few years we have seen a lot of bad things happening in airlines and we see a lot of bad things happening in Canada: delays, lots of times the airlines say they do not have a crew, people cannot go to a smaller community, or the flight is canc...”

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, CPC)

October 25th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...haps two or three of the elements of this bill that are poorly crafted.

I will start with the airline passenger bill of rights component of the bill, but before I get into those comments, I have to say that every time I hear someone speaking on an airline passenger bill of rights, it brings a smile to my face. I recall an exchange several years ago in this place, and many of my learned colleagues who have been around this place for a while may remember the exchange I am referring to. It happened between an NDP member of Parliament—I believe his name was Jim Maloway—and a minister of the government at the time, Mr. John Baird. It was on a Friday morning. Sittings on Friday mornings, as most members know, are usually not that well attended. Many times, subject material comes out of left field. We were in government at the time this exchange took place. We never really knew what questions would be coming from members on the opposition benches. Because so few members attended, it meant that many members who had never had an opportunity to ask a question before could get up to ask something that was of local concern to their constituency. As a result, many of our members did not have direct answers for the questions. In this particular case, Mr. Maloway got up and indicated that he had introduced a private member's bill for an airline passengers bill of rights. In his question to former Minister Baird, the member pointed out that reports had indicated that in Europe a number of airline authorities were thinking, as a cost-saving measure, of charging airline passengers a fee to go to the washroom. Mr. Maloway asked Mr. Baird whether he thought it was right that airlines would be able to charge passengers to go to the bathroom. Mr. Baird, without a moment's hesitation, responded, “Depends”. Members may have to think about that for a moment, but it was one of the cleverest quips and retorts I have heard in my time, and one that I will never forget.

Let us talk about this bill and its suggestions for an airline passenger bill of rights. Once again, there is a lack of specificity and a lack of detail. The bill is suggesting that any passengers who feel aggrieved by an airline or who wish to file a grievance against an airline for a host of different reasons would potentially be able to receive monetary compensation from the government. That means that if a passenger had a poor flight and the airline lost that person's baggage or if passengers were stuck on a runway or the tarmac for several hours for whatever reason, or if passengers felt aggrieved in a number of different areas, they would be able to go after the airline for monetary compensation. This bill suggests that the minister responsible would then have the ability to set a monetary compensation level, but it is completely open-ended. It does not set down any clarity or any rules surrounding this compensation, such as what would prompt it, what would curtail it. The bill merely states that a minister would have the ability to arbitrarily set a monetary level of compensation for a passenger who felt his or her rights had been violated. On that basis alone, I do not think most members in this place could support the bill, because it is too vague. There is no detail illuminating exactly what the responsibilities of the airlines would be and what the responsibilities of the passengers should be. It is poorly written and I would encourage all members to at least go back to their own caucuses, talk to the minister and suggest that he look to at least amend or rewrite that portion of the bill, because it is poorly written. (1725)

Also, in a section in the bill dealing with air transportation and screening, in particular, whether or not airports would be able to avail themselves of additional screening devices. On the surface, it appears that might be a legitimate consideration for airports if their traffic were increasing and they felt they needed more screening devices to be able to properly screen passengers. It is something that most members here would think is a legitimate consideration. However, the bill also suggests that if an airport avails itself of a new screening apparatus, then the airline might end up paying for that screening device and passing along the additional cost to the passenger. In other words, rather than the airport authority paying for a screening device, it may pass that cost along to the airline.

The airline would want to recover that cost and would then pass the additional cost on to the passenger. What is that? It is a tax. There is no other way I can define it. It is simply a tax. Canadians are being taxed enough right now. The government, of course, wants to tax them even more, but that is perhaps a debate for another day. However, this provision is poorly thought out, poorly designed, and might end up, as an unintended consequence, taxing airline passengers even more than they are taxed today. It is another example of how the bill is not...”

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

October 20th
Hansard Link

Private Members' Business

“...If someone wants to take their family on a Christmas vacation, it will be more expensive because airlines will pass that cost down to the consumer. Carbon pricing will not change how many gallons o...”

Mr. Bob Benzen (Calgary Heritage, CPC)

October 18th
Hansard Link

Statements by Members

“...eaker, the “City of Calgary” is retiring. No, not my hard-working hometown, but rather a Boeing 747 airliner that has shared the city's name since 1989.

Calgary aviation enthusiasts have been lo...”

Mr. Colin Carrie (Oshawa, CPC)

October 6th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...usiness owner in Oshawa, employs 55 people and makes major investments in our community. Enterprise Airlines was planning the first daily scheduled charter service into Oshawa from Buffalo. Now that t...”

Hon. Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut, Ind.)

October 6th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...d services.

Transport Canada has proposed new regulations affecting duty time that could make airline operations and our cost of living even more expensive. When finalizing these regulations, will the minister take into account our unique circumstances and consider the impact these changes will have on northern airlines and Nunavummiut?”

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

October 4th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...l of rights in his legislation, but he never presented a plan. Instead, he wants to leave it to the airline industry. The safety and rights of passengers must be prioritized, which is the whole point....”

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.)

October 4th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...in a passenger bill of rights, and that is exactly what we are doing.

We know that protecting airline passengers and travellers across this country is an important issue for Canadians, and that ...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

October 4th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...d us that there are already solutions. It seems as though the Liberals are colluding with the major airlines.

If they want to avoid scandals like the ones we have seen with Air Transat or United Airlines, why do the Minister of Transport or the Prime Minister not immediately guarantee air passe...”

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.)

October 4th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“Mr. Speaker, when Canadians buy a plane ticket, they expect airlines to be respectful, fair and competent.

That is why our government has introduced a bill to establish new rights for passengers. We even challenged the airlines to immediately respect the specific intentions of this bill, so that we can continue advanc...”

Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette, BQ)

September 27th
Hansard Link

Standing Order 52

“...large part because of its aerospace sector. While Boeing and Airbus traditionally shared the global airliner market, Bombardier and Quebec play in the big leagues. Clearly our talent, our ingenuity, a...”

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Lib.)

September 27th
Hansard Link

Private Members' Business

“...es is unfair to employees working in other provinces and territories. (1855)

For example, an airline pilot or flight attendant working for a company like WestJet or Air Canada in Alberta should...”

Mr. Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East—Cooksville, Lib.)

September 18th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...xit information would offer a range of benefits. For instance, with access to exit information from airline passenger manifests prepared up to 72 hours in advance, the CBSA and its law enforcement par...”

Mr. Francesco Sorbara (Vaughan—Woodbridge, Lib.)

September 18th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... new exchange of information between nations would be required. The information comes directly from airline passenger manifests. To obtain an exit record in the air mode, for example, the CBSA would r...”

Mr. Tom Kmiec (Calgary Shepard, CPC)

September 18th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...t, the date, and the time of departure. Much of this same information may be found when printing an airline ticket to present to officers, similar to much of the information found on a person's travel documents. I know many people who share much more personal information over social media and Facebook. There are a lot of pictures there. One can get to know a person better that way than by sharing this type of information.

I say this as someone who came here from another country. My family came to Canada in 1985, after being kicked out of Communist Poland. Canadian authorities already had a lot of this information as part of the spousal sponsorship that my father had made at the time in his application. (1315)

We reveal a lot of information today too through social media, Instagram, and a whole bunch of other applications that proliferate on our smart phones. People really have accepted that. The point of contention becomes how that information is used by governments.

I do not often hear people worrying about how Walmart or Amazon are using their information when they buy books from them and have them mail it to them. I do not hear that same type of concern. I do hear concern with large firms like Equifax, and we see the privacy breach that is affecting Canadians, Americans, and many others. It will be a problem for many years of people trying to unwind any type of fraud committed against them.

In a situation where it is the government exchanging this type of information, the airlines already have a lot of it. It is not just border services in different countries, the United States, or Canada, but the airlines carry a lot of this information too. I still do not hear people mentioning how Air Canada or United airlines are using or sharing their information is a concern for them. People are already sharing it...”

Mr. Mark Holland (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.)

June 21st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...mber of destinations they can go to. In fact, some 12 million passengers each and every year in the airline sector alone already use preclearance. Some people may use preclearance, and not even realize they do. People flying out of Pearson have the opportunity to go through customs before landing on U.S. soil, which not only accelerates the opportunity for them to get to work, see family, or start their vacation, it also means they get to have that process happen on Canadian soil. I will get back to that in just a moment.

On the range of airports, it means there are a vast number of airports that suddenly open up to airline passengers as if they are domestic travellers. If people want to go to Nashville, for exampl...”

Mr. David de Burgh Graham (Laurentides—Labelle, Lib.)

June 21st
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“... as a whole.

This is also a great help to a region such as ours that relies so heavily on the airline industry, like other similar airports and communities across the country.”

Ms. Iqra Khalid (Mississauga—Erin Mills, Lib.)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...and the availability of flights. They are also concerned about how they are treated as consumers by airline companies. This was highlighted in recent media reports about certain airlines.

In contrast, the context in which airline companies operate imposes significant costs associated with safety and security, both in the air and on the ground. Increased availability in the airline industry has contributed to making our aviation system more complex, with both the growing number of passengers transported and the amount of air traffic, which may result in delays for passengers. Air carriers are faced with a relative decrease in their performance, not only because of sustained competition but because of pressure from consumers for lower airfares. Comfort and luxury, once offered to passengers on airplanes, have given way to new practices that are leading airline companies to offer a multitude of à-la-carte services to passengers to remain viable. For example, companies no longer hesitate to make their passengers pay for the size or weight of their baggage, seat selection, and drinks or meals during flights. Carriers have also resorted to overbooking to maximize their revenue. The advent of ultra-low-cost carriers in the airline industry, such as Ryanair or easyJet, has also pushed traditional airlines to re-examine their original business models. Carriers are trying to do more to maximize the use of their aircraft and develop new revenue generation strategies. This has contributed to reduced passenger comfort and general satisfaction when they travel by air.

Let us return to us, the passengers. In general, the main issues we face relate to delays, cancellations, being denied boarding as a result of overbooking, lost or delayed baggage, a lack of information communicated to us when things are not proceeding as planned, long tarmac delays and wait times, or even seat assignments when parents or guardians travel with young children.

Several countries have therefore chosen to legislate or regulate certain practices in the airline industry by establishing mandatory measures or minimum levels of passenger services offered by carriers. It is time for Canada to align its current approach with practices that are in effect elsewhere in the world for the benefit of both travellers and our country.

Bill C-49 proposes to develop an approach that protects the rights of air passengers, and will meet the expectations of passengers, by establishing a clear, predictable, and fair framework that governs the practices and responsibilities of the airline industry while not imposing an economic burden or undue operational restrictions on it. In this regard, Bill C-49 proposes adopting a legislative framework within which the Canadian Transportation Agency can establish detailed and specific regulations that address common situations we face as passengers and thus establish standards and minimum service and compensation levels we can claim when our travel plans are affected. (1010)

Moreover, Bill C-49 would gather various indicators and data relating to passenger experience that could assist the government in better understanding, and if necessary, acting on situations or problems travellers may face.

In closing, a new approach to protecting the rights of air passengers could contribute to improving the general satisfaction of users. The government is actively working on this. However, it would be wishful thinking to believe that all concerns or criticisms of carriers or the airline industry made by passengers would be resolved. The reality in Canada is that flights will co...”

Ms. Iqra Khalid

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ness to the needs of Canadians. I am sure all members in this House can appreciate that. We use our airlines frequently, and we are directly impacted by what happens with our airline systems across Canada.

Having increased accountability by airlines would increase the quality of service and encourage more travel, safer travel, and more rel...”

Ms. Iqra Khalid

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ides for more reliable transportation, more protection of consumers, and for more accountability of airlines to consumers, while also ensuring that the level of competition is still there.”

Mr. Luc Berthold (Mégantic—L'Érable, CPC)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ir carriers; enable the Minister of Transport to consider and approve joint ventures by two or more airlines; update the Canadian freight system; require railways to install audio-video recorders in l...”

Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon—Souris, CPC)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...t going a year and a half ago.

It is very important that we have rights for passengers in the airline industry, but I have a great concern in regard to the compensation levels, because the bill ...”

Mr. Brad Trost (Saskatoon—University, CPC)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ith railway safety issues and broader economic railway issues. It also deals with issues related to airlines, consumers, the financing of airlines, foreign ownership rules, and so forth.

In many ways, the government has put together many things that really do not belong in a single piece of legislation, which makes it somewhat difficult to comment on. Some things in the bill are well-intentioned and could possibly be useful and good for the country. Other pieces of the legislation the government should rethink. I will take apart as many elements of the bill in the time allotted to me.

One of the biggest rail transportation issues in Canada is that there is a natural monopoly tendency. That is not caused by the railways through any malice or problem; it is just that there are some very natural realities. To build a railway, a large capital investment is required, making it very difficult for competition. Railways also serve specific geographic areas exclusively. They need to have that natural monopoly. To pay for the underlying capital cost, they need to capture the majority of the market. That, then, leads to a problem of a power imbalance.

If commodities can be shipped by means other than railways, for example, oil can be shipped by pipeline or perhaps trucking is better for other commodities, that is not a problem. However, for certain commodities and situations, rail may not be available. That is where a problem tends to result and get argued about when it comes to rail transportation.

In highly competitive markets where a lot of commodities enter and exit and product substitution is easily done, etc., there is no call for the government to get involved because there are few issues with the market. No monopoly is ever naturally total or pure, but to some degree railways in our country have those sorts of issues.

That has therefore caused a long history of the governments of Canada regulating, subsidizing, and interfering in the rail transportation industry, particularly in the west. If we look at the population centres of eastern Canada, they are much closer to the United States and commodities can be trucked. In that case, there is a considerable amount of competition. (1230)

That tends to be the underlying issue the government has to deal with whenever it deals with rail transportation issues.

In a previous Parliament, there had been some issues on grain transporting in the Prairies due to bottlenecks. Some of this was perhaps due to the railways, some of it perhaps due to weather issues, and the large crop in western Canada. The previous government put in some adjustments, which allowed shippers to use the railway system within 160 kilometres. This is a bit of a simplified interpretation. They were allowed to use the existing railways, and have the right, to ship their grain and other commodities to the United States and then connect.

It is this interconnection that is being discussed. It used to be 30 kilometres and was then extended to 160 kilometres. For those in places like Regina who needed to ship their grain and CN, CP could not get it out, they could then get them to ship it to the United States at which point a railway like Burlington Northern would have the option to ship the grain. As has been noted, that is coming to an end.

What the government has suggested is changing the rules to introduce something it is calling long-haul interchangeability rights, eliminating this 160-kilometre rule.

This is very similar to what has already been in the legislation before and has not been used. If the government is putting in a new provision but it is almost identical to something that has been in the legislation since the 1990s but has not been used, what is the purpose? What is the government trying to accomplish?

The government will have to deal with this at committee. Why is it eliminating something that has helped eliminate a bottleneck situation and going back to an older system that has not worked well. That is my first criticism and question for the government.

The second thing I want to point out, particularly with the rail issues, is that I do not see anything the government is doing in this to bring down the costs. Service is important, and commodity shippers in western Canada have told me they are willing to pay more if they can get timely and accurate services. That is very good. Ultimately, time is money when shipping products.

I am failing to see where the government is dealing with ways to make the regulatory process quicker and smoother. In fact, most of the legislation seems to add more layers onto it. I understand it goes back to that underlying problem, the natural monopoly and how to dealt with it. We often deal with it through regulation.

There is a second question I would like to put to the government. With the rail situation and the added costs that will soon come through the carbon tax, which will ultimately hurt the producers, the shippers, and other Canadians involved, how will it do things to lower the costs?

Finally, there are elements in the bill which personally interest me and many of my constituents. They are around the creation of a passenger's bill of rights. In many ways, this sounds very good. As someone who flies a lot, and most western Canadian members of Parliament joke that our third office is an airplane, I am very familiar with problems airlines can have.

My question is this. What has been costed and how will this cost be passed on to the customer? Costs for airline flights in Canada are some of the highest in the world. We all have a major concern with tha...”

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...s piece of legislation is important for transportation in many respects. I am going to focus on the airline passenger bill of rights aspect, which is something I personally have been trying to move in Parliament for a number of years.

I am sure that all members know that Canada lags when it comes to this. The European Union and the United States in particular have had a passenger bill of rights for some time. For Canada not to have one is a good example of our lack of consumer protection.

Canada is very unique when it comes to a lack of protection and the influence of those things on our pocketbooks. New Democrats have worked on a variety of issues, with the most recent one getting a lot of attention being the unlocking of cellphones. I worked on this with Rogers at one point in time. Rogers was the first company to unlock cellphones. That would be normal and expected behaviour, and at no cost to the consumer. The CRTC ruled that consumers would have a reasonable expectation of this, because it is normal practice in most countries around the world. For us to be treated differently is a drag on our economy and a drag on our capacity to compete.

An airline bill of rights affects passenger travel, and passenger travel is also business travel. Say, for example, a business traveller has been ripped off or not been treated properly or did not get to a destination, that individual would have something to fall back on. If we are spending so much of our time trying to figure out rules and regulations and fairness, and there is nothing more than a dog's breakfast out there, with people fighting for decency, for anything, from a bit of nourishment to proper compensation, they are wasting their time, energy, and resources. Airline travel then becomes an uncompetitive part of our economy.

Canada needs to think about consumer protection. If we do not have some kind of protection, it is a drag on our capabilities. We will be out of sync with our competitors and our partners, be it the United States or the European Union or whoever else when it comes to these types of things. (1245)

This act unfortunately includes several things. The Conservatives were very good at bringing a healthy repertoire of omnibus bills to the House of Commons, and we debated those bills on a regular basis. To some degree, I have to give the Liberals credit. Given that we have had so few bills coming forth, when they do come forward, they are omnibus bills on steroids. They are pumped up with several different aspects that we would not have seen in the past. They have augmented this type of practice.

In this bill, we should be discussing the passenger bill of rights on its own—for the reasons I have noted in the precursor—with respect to the competitiveness of our economy, let alone sincere fairness. If one has ever sat on the tarmac before, one sometimes has to wait three or four hours and cannot even go to the washroom, which is unhealthy to begin with, not to mention the spillovers we have seen in the past. We should be thinking about those small issues when we are talking about other things in this bill.

The Canada Transportation Act is being amended in this bill, as is foreign ownership of airlines. We are talking about an industry that has had quite a colourful past. Its current characte...”

Mr. Brian Masse

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...reign ownership. That is a real problem because there are so many anomalies with regard to who owns airlines and what they can have financially.”

Mr. Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...y, there is too much. It changes laws having to do with everything from shipping to railways to the airlines. It changes a number of different acts, and with a number of different purposes in mind. It...”

Mr. Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC)

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...he transportation industry for over 22 years, I have a lot of questions regarding Bill C-49. On the airline part of the bill, the bill does not specify what the compensation levels for passengers woul...”

Mr. Daniel Blaikie

June 16th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ir flights cancelled or could not get on their plane would be entitled to a full refund, and if the airline was not compliant, it would be a $1,000 penalty to passengers on top of the full refund. The...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

June 7th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...on's powers in their sights. In 2011, the commissioner blocked a deal between Air Canada and United Airlines because it would have eliminated competition and raised the cost of flying. Under Bill C-49, the minister will have sole authority to approve such deals, and it just so happens that Air Canada and United Airlines are planning to resubmit the exact same proposal.

If the commissioner rejects the dea...”

Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, CPC)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...avel from a distant airport to a downtown business centre, and of course that would have led Porter Airlines to buy more jets from Bombardier, right?

The government says that the island airport ...”

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...hip restrictions for Canadian air carriers; develop a clear and predictable process for approval of airline joint ventures; improve access, transparency, efficiency, and sustainable long-term investment in the freight rail sector; and, increase the safety of transportation in Canada by requiring railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives.

Before I explain each of these in greater detail, let me first make clear that action in these areas reflects the priorities identified by Canadians.

We undertook extensive consultations over the past year following the release of Canada Transportation Act review report. We heard from more than 300 Canadian transportation and trade stakeholders, including indigenous groups and the provinces and territories, about how to ensure that the national transportation system continues to support Canada's international competitiveness, trade, and prosperity.

We also heard from individual Canadians in communities, large and small, all across the country regarding their concerns about our transportation system. Canadians have expressed their disappointment with their air travel experiences. I am committed to improving those experiences. (2155) [English]

The concerns of Canadians have been highlighted in recent weeks with much-publicized cases of the unacceptable treatment of air travellers both in this country and south of the border. Stories of passengers forcibly removed from flights and other unacceptable industry practices that have significant impact on consumers have made the news headlines.

The bill, if passed, would provide assurance to Canadians that if they choose to travel by air, they would be aware of their rights, and should they feel that their rights have been violated, they would have a clear, simple, and timely mechanism for resolution.

Bill C-49 proposes to mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in partnership with Transport Canada, new regulations to enhance Canada's air passenger rights. These new rules would ensure air passenger rights are clear, consistent, and fair for both travellers and air carriers.

I believe that when passengers purchase an airline ticket, they expect and deserve the airline to fulfill its part of the transaction. When that agreement is not fulfilled, passengers des...”

Hon. Marc Garneau

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ics of the passenger bill of rights.

They will do this by consulting with Canadians, with the airlines, and looking at practices in other countries, so that they can come up with a bill of right...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...te for or against something that is not really there, and what does the minister mean when he tells airlines that, in the meantime, he would like them to respect the spirit of the law, which has absol...”

Mr. Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Lib.)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...estion for the minister. We all understand that there are maximums in compensation that differ from airline to airline, but will these regulations also consider setting a minimum amount of compensation, as well ...”

Mrs. Kelly Block (Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, CPC)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...s here, I travel a lot and only have positive things to say about all the employees working for the airlines and at our airports. Of course, on occasion, flights do not go as we hope, but the Minister of Transport appears to be willing to pit passengers against airlines rather than fixing the structural problems in Canada's aviation regime.

This legislation does not spell out what the compensation regime will be, just that there will be one. The bill states that after consulting with only the Minister of Transport, the Canadian Transportation Agency will make regulations concerning carriers' obligations toward passengers. However, for even greater clarity, subsection (2) of proposed section 86.11 states that the Canadian Transportation Agency must comply with any instruction from the minister with regard to setting regulations concerning carriers' obligations to passengers.

What this means is that the Canadian Transportation Agency is tentatively responsible for setting what financial penalties a carrier would have to pay to the passenger in the case of a service breach, unless the minister is dissatisfied with the level of prescribed compensation that the CTA decides is appropriate, in which case he or she can dictate what that level of compensation will be.

It is noteworthy that the agency will, by law, only be allowed to consult with the Minister of Transport concerning the setting of these regulations, and not with consumer advocate groups, airlines, airports, Nav Canada and other stakeholders in the sector. (2225)

I do not understand what the purpose of consulting only the minister is. If the Canadian Transportation Agency is to be an arm's-length organization, this legislation clearly diminishes its independence. If the minister will not allow the agency to independently set the parameters of the passenger compensation regime, he should just spell out in legislation what it will be and let members of Parliament and stakeholder groups decide whether this is a good proposal or not.

If this legislation were truly aimed at reducing the cost of travel for the passenger, while increasing service and convenience, the minister would immediately lobby to have the government's carbon tax, which will make every single flight more expensive, withdrawn. He would reform the air passenger security system, which was universally identified as a major irritant for all passengers during the Canada Transportation Act review by all the organizations that participated in the process.

While it would be preferable to have the sections of the bill dealing with air and rail examined as stand-alone pieces of legislation, I can only surmise that the government's complete mismanagement of the House's agenda has led us to the point where an omnibus transportation bill is what we have in front of us today. At least we have finally begun debating something in the transport sector, now that we are two years into the government's mandate. So far, the only achievement the minister has to show in terms of legislation is the act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act.

Let us talk about Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. This was first introduced by the government's representative in the Senate 13 months ago and passed third reading in the Senate on February 2. The minister claimed that Bill S-2 was a priority in his speech to the Montreal Chamber of Commerce in November 2016, yet it has not been touched since.

On May 12, just days before the introduction of the legislation we are debating today, the Minister of Transport introduced the oil tanker moratorium act, a bill that his own officials conceded would only impact the future development of Canada's oil sands and no other activity in northern British Columbia. Equally concerning about this oil tanker moratorium, which could be renamed the oil pipeline moratorium, is that there is considerable support among first nations on B.C.'s coast for energy development opportunities, but the wishes of these first nations are being ignored. For the Liberals to move forward with this tanker moratorium without properly consulting coastal first nations is extremely hypocritical.

The Liberals go to painstaking lengths to emphasize the amount of consultation they undertake, but it is becoming more and more apparent that their interest in consulting is about being told what they want to hear and not about listening to differing views. If anyone needs further proof that Bill C-48 was introduced only for political purposes, it is that this moratorium has been introduced as a stand-alone bill and not as part of this omnibus package we are debating today.

The Minister of Transport's silence and inaction on critical and time-sensitive transport issues, especially rail transport, is leading to uncertainty for both shippers and the railroads, which both want certainty as they negotiate shipping rates for the season.

That is why over the past several months I have asked many times whether the government intends to renew the sunsetting measures in Bill C-30 before they expire on August 1, 2017. The response I have been given time and time again is that the government recognizes the urgency to get this done and that legislation is forthcoming. Unfortunately, the Liberals have made a muck of this, and the key measures in Bill C-30 will sunset before any replacement legislation can receive royal assent and become law.

Last week in the transport committee, a Liberal member moved a motion calling on the committee to begin its consideration of this bill, Bill C-49, in September, before the House begins sitting, to expedite the study of the sections of the bill that deal with the shipping of grain. While Conservatives have no objection to considering this legislation in September before the House returns from the summer break, government members fail to realize that our producers needed them to turn their attention to this months ago, as the measures will sunset on August 1 of this year. At best, there will be a two-and-a-half-month gap between when the measures in Bill C-30 sunset and replacement legislation is in place. (2230)

By the time this legislation has passed, the majority of contracts for this year will have been negotiated with the law in flux. Because of the government's mismanagement of the legislative agenda, these popular measures will sunset without replacement, and shippers will be the worse off.

This is important to note, because for a combination of reasons, including a lack of rail capacity, preparedness by railways and shippers, weather, and the size of the crop, western Canada's 2013-14 grain crop did not get to market in a timely manner. Consequently, the previous Conservative government introduced Bill C-30, which gave the Canada Transportation Agency the power to allow shippers access to regulated interswitching up to 160 kilometres, mandated that CN and CP both haul at least 500 tonnes of grain per week, and introduced a new definition of adequate and suitable service levels. With this extension, the number of primary grain elevators with access to more than one railroad with the extended interswitching limits increased from 48 to 261.

These measures were met with universal support from the members of the shipping community, because even if they did not use interswitching, they could use it as a tool to increase their negotiating position with the railways, as the shippers knew exactly how much the interswitch portion of the haul would cost them.

At the same time, the government announced that the Canada Transportation Act statutory review would be expedited, and it began a year early to provide long-term solutions to the grain backlog of the 2013-14 shipping season and other problems in the transport sector within Canada. The hon. David Emerson, a former Liberal and Conservative cabinet minister, was tasked with leading the review. This review was completed in the fall of 2015 and was on the Minister of Transport's desk shortly before Christmas. The minister then tabled this report in mid-February 2016 and promised wide consultations on the report. As the key measures of Bill C-30 were going to sunset on August 1, 2016, and parliamentarians were hearing from the shipping community that it would like to see these extended, Parliament voted in June 2016 to extend those provisions for one year.

In the fall of 2016, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities undertook a study of Bill C-30 and held a number of meetings on the merits of these measures and whether they should be allowed to sunset. We were assured that if we lived with this extension, these issues would be dealt with by August 1, 2017.

The vast majority of the testimony heard was supportive of maintaining the 160-kilometre regulated interswitching limit at committee, which is why the committee's first recommendation was the following:

That the Canadian Transportation Agency retain the flexibility provided under the Canada Transportation Act by the Fair Rail For Grain Farmers Act to set interswitching distances up to 160 km, in order to maintain a more competitive operating environment for rail shippers with direct access to only one railway company.

Anyone who has read this bill will know that the government ignored the committee's main recommendation. At some point during this debate, I hope to hear from Liberal members on the transport committee about whether they believe that the government was right to ignore the committee's recommendations, and if so, whether the entire committee study was just a waste of time.

Basically, what the government is proposing with this legislation is to replace the 160-kilometre interswitching limit with the creation of a new long-haul interswitching tool that would be in effect between Windsor and Kamloops on hauls of up to 1,200 kilometres, or up to 50% of the length of the entire haul. Shippers would be charged the regulated interswitching rate for the first 30 kilometres of the haul and then a Canada Transportation Agency-determined rate, which would be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the price of a similar haul, for the remainder of the distance to the interswitch point. Shippers would only be able to interswitch at the first available interswitch point within the zone.

What the government has done is take a little-used existing remedy, called a competitive line rate, and rename it long-haul interswitching. (2235)

Under a competitive line rate, a shipper could apply to the agency to set the amount of the competitive line rate, the designation of the continuous route, the designation of the nearest interchange, and the manner in which the local carrier would fulfill its service obligations. We know from history that this remedy was infrequently used because of the prerequisite that the shipper first reach an agreement with the connecting carrier, and the two main carriers effectively declined to compete with one another through CLRs. What we do not know is what the difference will be at a practical level between this new long-haul interswitching and the existing competitive line rates.

Like competitive line rates, long-haul interswitching is a much more complicated system for shippers to use, and the jury is still out on whether this will achieve the minister's stated objective of improving rail access for captive shippers. When Bill C-30 was first introduced, there was universal support among shippers for the extended interswitching. So far, very few organizations I have spoken to can say that this tool is better.

In conclusion, this much is certain: the key measures in Bill C-30 will be allowed to sunset on August 1, before this legislation receives royal assent. The Liberals have had nearly a full year to get new legislation in place but failed to do so, and shippers will suffer the consequences.

Canada remains one of the most expensive jurisdictions in which to operate an airline, and it is about to become even more so with the imposition of a national carbon tax. This b...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...hen present us with his bill later.

In fact, I find it rather puzzling that the minister asks airlines to comply with the spirit of the law while we are studying Bill C-49 and while the transportation agency will be drafting regulations that the minister could well reject, which would delay the process even more.

Could someone explain to me the spirit of an empty shell? I simply cannot understand it.

The foreign ownership limit for air carriers, which I asked about earlier, will increase from 25% to 49%. What is this decision based on? It is based on a recommendation of the Emerson report, which does not show beyond any doubt, or even with some doubt, the relevance of this measure when it comes to market competitiveness and the results or positive impact that it could have for passengers in terms of air ticket costs, for example.

A study by the University of Manitoba shows the exact opposite. It shows, beyond any doubt, that an increase in the foreign ownership of a Canadian airline cannot be linked to an effect on airfares.

Again, why is the government introducing this measure? I do not know. Bill C-49 is nebulous. I do not think we will be able to solve this issue given the short amount of time that will be available to the committee to study a bill as large as this one. There is another serious problem here, namely the Liberal bulldozer. The Liberals dragged their feet on introducing measures, that is, if there are even any in the bill, and they are now trying to rush the bill through.

I would like to come back to the agreements between airlines, which the minister also talked about. Again, like we have seen many times before, the legislation enhances the powers of the minister. I must say that every time that happens, a little light goes on. It tells me that we should be worried about what is happening. What powers does the minister want, and what good comes from it?

Basically, these joint venture agreements are nothing but a type of partial merger that is approved when rules of competition continue to apply. That is why entities like the Competition Bureau, which is the competition tribunal, exist. (2300)

Members will recall the joint venture between Air Canada and United Continental Holdings. These two airlines asked to merge their operations for 15 air routes. At the time, the Competition Bureau appr...”

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...the rights of air passengers. Does the member think that these rights are adequately protected when airlines sell more tickets than there are seats available?”

Mr. Joe Peschisolido (Steveston—Richmond East, Lib.)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...nting on Bill C-49, I will be focusing on the liberalization of the international rules of Canadian airlines.

Canadian travellers and their experiences are top of mind for our government. During consultations conducted by the Minister of Transport, we asked Canadian travellers for their feedback and they were clear. They wanted lower cost air travel, more opportunities for leisure and business travel, and they wanted to see Canada become a more attractive travel destination for visitors. They asked for long-term sustainable competition, which would allow for the introduction of additional air services, improved air connectivity, and perhaps above all, more choice. The government has listened and is committed to achieving tangible improvements to the traveller experience.

As a result of the feedback we received, a number of proposals have been introduced in Bill C-49 to help improve the traveller experience in Canada.

For example, the government intends to liberalize international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers. What does this mean for Canadian travellers? Let me begin by briefly describing this initiative.

Like most countries, Canada limits international ownership and control of domestic air carriers. Under the Canada Transportation Act, non-Canadians currently cannot possess more than 25% of the voting shares of a Canadian carrier. Additionally, Canadian air carriers must also be controlled by Canadians, which means they may not be subject to controlling influence by international investors.

Limits on foreign ownership and control of air carriers are the norm around the world. For instance, in the United States, the limit is 25%, while the European Union, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand allow up to 49%, and Japan allows 33.3%. Limits vary depending on the circumstances of each country and the circumstances of each region.

However, Canada's current ownership limits may be acting as a barrier to new services and enhanced competition. Two prospective ultra low-cost carriers, Canada Jetlines and Enerjet, have already applied for and received exemptions to the current limits on international ownership from the Minister of Transport. Both companies successfully argued that under the current 25% limit, there was insufficient risk capital in the Canadian market to support the launch of new services.

Reflecting on this reality and the Canada Transportation Act review recommendations, the government is proposing changes that would allow international investors to own up to 49% of the voting shares of Canadian air carriers by introducing legislation that would amend the act and all other relevant acts.

As mentioned earlier, countries have different approaches to international ownership of air carriers, and our government wants to ensure that Canadian carriers compete on a level playing field. To protect the competitiveness of our air sector and support connectivity, no single international investor or any combination of international air carriers will be allowed to own more than 25%.

The direct impact of higher levels of international investment is that Canadian air carriers would have access to a wider pool of risk capital. This would allow air carriers to be better funded and could allow new carriers, which are otherwise not able to find sufficient risk capital, to enter the Canadian market.

New carriers, including ultra low-cost carriers offering extremely competitive prices, are expected to bring more competition into the entire Canadian air travel sector. This could in turn reduce the cost of air transportation and open new markets to Canadian consumers and shippers. (2325)

Small markets currently underserved by existing carriers could also benefit from services by new carriers. For instance, airports in smaller cities that currently offer services to a very limited number of destinations could benefit from the addition of new services, since we know that ultra-low-cost carriers use these smaller airports as their hubs. All of this could lead to more choice when purchasing an airline ticket; more travel destinations for all travellers, including those from smaller cities; and lower prices for Canadian travellers. Additionally, there could also be benefits for airports and suppliers and the entire country as more jobs and more prosperity are added to the Canadian economy.

To finish, let me underscore that the experience of Canadian air travellers is a great priority for the Government of Canada. We know that it is also a priority for Canadians. This is why we have proposed to increase international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers. If this initiative is implemented, we believe it could significantly improve the travel experience for all Canadians. Once in place, it could also help lower prices, support increased competition among air carriers, provide more choice to Canadians when it comes to purchasing an airline ticket, and ultimately improve service and connectivity for Canadian travellers.”

Mr. Joe Peschisolido

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...acation somewhere. Changing the rules will mean more choices for Canadians. That is very important. Airlines must have the ability to do that. I am completely in favour of making those changes.”

Mr. Lloyd Longfield (Guelph, Lib.)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...air carriers to a smaller community to go to other smaller communities, communities that the larger airlines would never service, communities that we could not get the larger airlines into even if we wanted to because of the cost of their operations versus the cost of the other lower-cost airlines that we are talking about in the bill tonight.

When we talk about choice, there is choice between airlines, but there is also choice at the local level in getting air service into communities. Could...”

Mr. Alain Rayes (Richmond—Arthabaska, CPC)

June 5th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...r carriers; enables the Minister of Transport to consider and approve joint ventures by two or more airlines; updates the Canadian freight system; requires railways to install audio-video recorders in...”

Mr. Todd Doherty

June 1st
Hansard Link

Business of Supply

“... had acquaintances, friends, or loved ones who had been impacted negatively or lost a job. Even our airlines took a hit, with direct flights cancelled between Calgary, Prince George, Terrace, Brandon,...”


The Senate

Hon. Grant Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“... bill introduces a wide range of measures to enhance the service, safety and competitiveness of our airlines and railways, to stimulate greater investment in airlines, railways and ports, and to improve the efficiency of marine shipping in Canada. A careful review of this bill reveals what I believe to be a legitimate and worthy effort to balance clearly competing and significant commercial interests, to recognize the need for competitiveness in various complex transportation markets, to pursue fairness for sometimes if not often vulnerable shippers, and to respond to the need for safety and enhanced customer service in transportation systems. I will begin by outlining the air transportation features of this bill. First, Bill C-49 addresses many air travel irritants by strengthening airline passenger rights. To do this, the bill will ensure that, first, passengers are provided with plain language, information about air carriers’ obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints. It will also ensure that standards are set for the treatment of passengers in cases of denied boarding, delays in cancellations, including provision for compensation. It will, among other things, result in prohibiting one particular manifestation of this problem, involuntarily removing someone from a plane due to overbooking once they have taken their seat. The bill will also ensure standardized compensation levels are established for lost or damaged baggage; ensure standards are established for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; and it will ensure that children, including grandchildren — I can hardly wait — are seated close to a parent or guardian at no extra cost. It will also ensure that air carriers develop standards for transporting often very valuable musical instruments. Airlines clearly cannot be held responsible for weather, emergency, medical or security incidents. But Canadians have a right to responsive and reasonable treatment in the ways that I have listed above. Bill C-49 will require the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in collaboration with Transport Canada, regulations to implement these important initiatives. They will be expected to consult further with Canadians and industry stakeholders in doing this. These regulations will apply to all carriers when operating to, from and within Canada. Reporting is important to measuring and managing. To strengthen the application of these initiatives, the bill will ensure that appropriate reporting is provided by all service providers involved in air travel, including air carriers, airports and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. This information will include data on the travellers’ experiences and the quality of service. The data provided will help measure compliance with the proposed air passenger service rights, and will inform future policy decisions. Second, Bill C-49, in addition to establishing this passenger bill of rights, will increase the limit of foreign ownership of Canadian air carriers from 25 per cent to 49 per cent while ensuring that Canadian control over our airline industry will exist with two associated safeguards. First, a sole international investor will be permitted to hold no more than 25 per cent of voting shares in a Canadian airline; and, second, no combination of international air carriers, either directly or indirectly through an affiliate, will be permitted to own more than 25 per cent of the voting shares of a Canadian carrier. These changes will not apply to specialty air services such as heli-logging, aerial photography, or fire fighting, where the foreign ownership restrictions would remain at 25 per cent of voting shares. There is already a great deal of competition and cross-border access in these markets. Amending international ownership limits will have a number of important benefits. First, it will allow Canadian air carriers to access more capital investment, stimulating innovation, growth, more route choice and improved service for travellers; and, second, these amendments will also encourage investment in new, possibly low-cost carriers, creating more competition in our airline industry and providing even more choice for Canadians. Third, Bill C-49 addresses joint venture arrangements between and amongst airlines. Joint ventures are increasingly common and critical to international competitiveness in this very complex industry. Joint ventures enable air carriers to coordinate and integrate functions, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, marketing and sales. They allow for greater international reach, greater access for Canadian travellers to more international routes, cost-reducing efficiencies and greater traveller convenience. These joint ventures raise the issue of balancing competition against certain broader public interests in air travel service. To meet this challenge, the bill will allow the Minister of Transport, in consultation with the Commissioner of Competition, to review such arrangements before they are implemented. Currently, collaborations between airlines are subject to review only under the Competition Act. They are therefore conducted from a single, somewhat restricted perspective, competition alone, and they are conducted as after-the-fact reviews. The new process will allow the Minister of Transport, in consultation with the Commissioner of Competition, to consider and balance market competition with broader public advantages anticipated in proposed joint ventures. It will involve preauthorizing joint venture proposals and rigorous ongoing monitoring. Bill C-49 will bring the Canadian process — this review process of joint ventures — in line with those of other countries, notably the United States, where such joint ventures are also considered from both competition and public interest perspectives. To be sure, it is important to be highly cognizant of competition requirements and to be wary of eroding them. To address that concern, the bill requires that a summary of the commissioner’s advice to the minister on these proposals would be made public, without compromising the applicant’s confidential information. The minister will also be required to make a summary of his or her decisions public — again, while protecting the confidentiality of the applicants — and there will be zero tolerance for any divergence from the parameters of approved joint ventures without approval from the minister. Fourth, Bill C-49 will allow for better access by airports to security screening services. With aggressive growth in the airline industry comes a continual need to improve passenger security screening services. Bill C-49 ...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“...can’t. The dangers inherent in train safety are probably commensurate, if not greater, than that of airline safety, in some respects. I think they found a balance. They are not going to be able to peer all the time. The railways and the transportation department are only going to be able to randomly access information. That will be legislated and regulated specifically by a regime on establishing the randomness of that. They won’t be able to use that, as is the case with airline pilots, to prosecute a violation on the part of an employee, unless very specifically that e...”

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“...er in that regard. It is the part about joint ventures, which are becoming increasingly common with airlines. I am referring to the agreements that Air Canada has with Lufthansa and American Airlines. These companies are entering into agreements that are a much closer to mergers than partnership agreements. If you are flying from Montreal to Romania, you may think that are you travelling with Air Canada the entire way, even though you are actually switching airlines in Germany. These companies now have agreements around competition and prices, which means that smaller airlines like Air Transat and WestJet are being left out in the cold because the American government reviews the agreements every year to make sure that they benefit travellers. What this bill seeks to do is to transfer responsibility from the Competition Commissioner over to the Minister of Transport in order to allow these companies to make agreements that are closer to mergers than partnership agreements. In my opinion, this is a dangerous bill because it would jeopardize small businesses like Air Transat and WestJet. They are unable to compete with the larger airlines, which could merge and attract over 90% of the aviation market worldwide, resulting in job ...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“..., here is the balance that is being sought in this bill. The risk is that if we’re not allowing our airlines to enter into joint ventures which extend their reach internationally, they will be washed aside. I’ll give you an example of a personal experience with this. In Edmonton, we had two airports. We had a downtown airport that everyone loved because you could fly on a 737 to Calgary, and we had an international airport. Well, one ate the other. Eventually, we shut the downtown airport and began to see the Edmonton International Airport build and become a remarkable international hub. What will happen is that if we’re not allowing our national airlines to have a presence internationally in a significant, competitive way, our airlines run the risk of simply being left to feed other major airports, probably in the United States or certain limited centres in the country. In turn, that will simply make travel more complicated for our travellers and limit our commercial reach as well. To the extent that it hurts national airlines like Air Canada, for example, that will damage jobs in Quebec and Montreal as well. It can hurt that airline grievously. Air Transat will not be forgotten or brushed aside either. The Commissioner of C...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“...ourse. Absolutely, these joint ventures will be reviewed. In fact, one of the concerns of the major airlines is that the reviewing will start at two years, which they believe is too short a time to allow them to negotiate with their partner, to establish, to implement, and then to begin to see the results. The government has tightened up and is restraining that process by limiting the buildup period to two years, not three or four or further. At two years, the government, and very likely the commissioner too, can review this at any given time. Again, that’s a bit of a concern to the other airlines, but nevertheless it’s the right thing to do. (1600) Let’s remember that the Commissioner of Competition views these kinds of arrangements and any other kind of competition arrangements simply from competition. Competition is extremely important for keeping costs down. There are other elements of this bill that will work to keep costs down as well, but the air traffic, air service, airline industry parameters and pressures, particularly internationally, are defined by many things ...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“With respect to screening services, there is a good deal of pressure on the government from airlines and airport authorities and so on, from travellers like all of us, to improve that. In fact, I understand that the second phase of the government’s rollout of the plan will look at that and is probably reviewing that now in great detail. It is a concern. Just because there’s going to be a joint venture that is going to consider, in the process of its review, more than just competition doesn’t mean that prices will go up. A joint venture that gets us one flight rather than having to take several flights in collaboration with another airline internationally — maybe gets us into China or Korea in ways we can’t right now — can create greater efficiencies for airlines and may reduce costs. So I don’t think it’s immediately obvious that anything in here will end up creating hidden costs. This is an extremely competitive industry, particularly internationally but also internally in Canada. Look at the pressures on airlines of keeping costs down and look at the level of service over the years that we have been fly...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“...ty services for not much extra cost. We also have to remember that security and the strength of the airlines are extremely important. This bill will support and sustain those airlines in a very significant way for a long time to come and make them even greater international ...”

Senator Mitchell

November 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

“...pay extra money to get that child to sit beside them. We have no standard way to ensure that if one airline loses your bag you get paid something, and if another airline loses your bag you get paid the same amount, or at least you get paid adequately. I believe ...”

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson

September 20th
Hansard Link

The Late Terry Ryan

“...the co-op into other business opportunities, including hardware, snowmobile sales, postal services, airline agency, construction and fuel. Along the way, he was a hunter, hamlet councillor, justice of...”

Hon. Percy E. Downe

September 20th
Hansard Link

Public Safety Cybersecurity

“...but I would like the government to be proactive. I see they are currently proposing legislation, an airline bill of rights and so on, but I think this is even more significant. Would the government co...”

Senator Plett

May 30th
Hansard Link

Canada Labour Code Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate Adjourned

“...certain question I asked because it was too partisan. I don't think this is partisan at all when an airline such as WestJet has a union vote.

Let me ask again, Mr. Leader: Do you know how many p...”


Proposed Regulations

Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Parts I, VI and VII — Flight Crew Member Hours of Work and Rest Periods)

Proposed 2017-07-01
Aeronautics Act
Gazette Link

“...ssumed to be the average hourly wage rate in Canada: $25.72 (plus 25% overhead). Source: Table 282-0152 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), wages of employees by type of work, National Occupational Classification (NOC), sex, and age group, annual (current dollars) [1,2,8]. Footnote 15 Some Perspectives on Fatigue Risk Management Systems, March 2012, European Org...”

“...ieved at https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-016-0200-6 (accessed March 10, 2017). Footnote 31 Report on Plans and Priorities, Transportation Safety Board of Canada, 2016–2017. http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/publications/priorites-priorities/2016/2016.pdf (accesse...”

“...12 Footnote e S.C. 2004, c. 15, s. 18 Footnote f R.S., c. A-2 ...”


Was This Useful? Try Our Real-Time Alerts Product: Free Trial

About FederalMonitor.ca

FederalMonitor is a government monitoring software company. Our real-time alert technology has been used in Ontario since 2011 and in Europe since 2014.

Our Office

19 Yorkville Ave, 3rd Floor
Toronto, Canada
M4W 1L1
+1 647-466-7748

Free Trial

The best way to evaluate FederalMonitor.ca is to try it out. There's no obligation to buy and no payment information required to get started.

Created by Addison Cameron-Huff, technology lawyer.