Fight to keep airports public is a success

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, and its component, the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) are cautiously celebrating the successful outcome of our campaign to protect airports from privatization. It was recently made public that the government has decided to shelve a report that explores the further privatization of Canada’s airports.

“We are pleased that the federal government has confirmed that they will not be proceeding with a plan to sell off Canada’s airports at this time.”  said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President.  “Canadians would not benefit from a private, for-profit, airport infrastructure system. Costs would rise for passengers, and the quality of service would diminish just so a few investors can make a profit.”

Privatization Agenda

Currently, most of Canada’s airports are owned by the federal government, and leased to not-for-profit community-based airport authorities that are charged with managing the airport on 99-year-leases. The authorities pay rent to the federal government, and must return the infrastructure to the government, debt-free, at the end of the lease. In 2016, the Liberal government asked Credit Suisse to prepare a report on the potential to change this model through the privatization of airport buildings and land. They then refused to release the report.

UCTE-PSAC members campaigned against this plan as soon as it was proposed. Our videoemail, and postcard campaign, as well as our lobbying efforts, were effective in delivering the clear message that our airports should not be for sale. Canadians joined in, and elected officials listened.

Across the country, opposition to the plan was clear.

  • Canadians were opposed. Angus Reid found that more than half of Canadians were outright against privatization, and many expected a less pleasant travelling experience should this happen.
  • Municipalities were opposed
  • Airports Authorities and airlines were opposed.
  • The House of Commons Finance Committee was opposed.

“UCTE-PSAC members are proud to have engaged in a vigorous campaign to save Canada’s airports from being sold off to the highest bidder,” said Dave Clark, National President of UCTE. “Our members take pride in making Canada’s airports among the best in the world. A for-profit model would not benefit Canadians. This would have been a large price to pay for a one-time windfall to government coffers.”

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