Echo Hotel Aviation HR Briefings

This briefing series provides clear practical advice to employers in the aviation sector to navigate all aspects of the employment cycle.

The articles listed below are intended to provide readers with general information. They should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice or opinion.

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Federal Government to mandate vaccination for the aviation sector

August 18, 2021

On Friday, August 13, 2021, The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat announced that as early as the end of September, the Government of Canada intends to require that all employees in the federal public service be vaccinated against COVID-19. In the same announcement, the Government indicated that by no later than October 31, 2021, employees in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors will also be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At this early stage, the Government has not delineated the specific entities that will fall under this mandate. However, several airports and airport groups including the…

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Safety sensitive helicopter operation not allowed random drug and alcohol testing

January 10, 2020

The recent arbitral decision in OPEIU and Cougar Helicopters Inc has reiterated the high bar employers must meet to justify random drug and alcohol testing in safety-sensitive workplaces. The Employer, Cougar Helicopters, operates offshore air transport services for the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and performs deep water search-and-rescue and medevac flights. Cougar’s unionized workforce consists of pilots, weather observers, radio operators, and search-and-rescue cabin crew. Most of Cougar’s employees occupy safety-sensitive positions, and Cougar has adopted a proactive Safety Management System to mitigate workplace risks. Cougar’s proactive safety strategy includes a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy….

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Preliminary injunctions against random drug and alcohol testing

August 1, 2019

Office and Professional Employees International Union v Cougar Helicopters, 2019 CanLII 66726 (NL LA)   This Echo Hotel Aviation HR Briefing follows up on the decision that Emond Harnden recently reported on in its Echo Hotel Aviation Law Briefing. In Office and Professional Employees International Union v Cougar Helicopters, the arbitrator has temporarily suspended random testing under Cougar Helicopters’ drug and alcohol policy pending final arbitration of the union’s grievance. The employer, Cougar Helicopters, operates offshore air transport services for the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and performs deep water search-and-rescue and medevac flights. Cougar’s unionized workforce consists…

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Preventing impaired flying: Transportation Safety Board recommends alcohol and drug testing following investigation of Carson Air Ltd. in-flight breakup

December 15, 2017

In November 2017, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) published its investigation report relating to the in-flight breakup of Carson Air Ltd. flight 66. In the report, while unable to determine the exact cause of the breakup, the TSB concluded that alcohol intoxication “almost certainly played a role in the events leading up to the accident.” As a result of this finding, as well as a number of recent incidents involving impaired pilots, the TSB recommended a “comprehensive response to inappropriate drug and alcohol use in aviation.” In the TSB’s view, drug and alcohol testing may be one aspect…

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Preventing impaired flying: Where do we go from here?

January 12, 2017

By Larissa Volinets Schieven and Steven P. Williams The recent arrest of an intoxicated Sunwing Airlines pilot, who made it as far as the cockpit before passing out, has garnered significant attention, and left many wondering how commercial air carriers can best ensure impaired pilots don’t make it to take-off. Last week, Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, sent a letter to commercial air carriers expressing his concern over the incident, and reminding carriers of their “obligation to ensure that flight crew members are fit to fly” and their “responsibility to have procedures in place to identify and manage hazards…

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Prohibition against pyramiding does not apply where premiums serve different purposes

December 9, 2015

Employers often provide shift premiums as additional compensation to employees that work weekends, evening or overnight shifts. For unionized workplaces, collective agreements will often prohibit the payment of two or more premiums for the same period of work pursuant to different articles of a collective agreement, provided that the compensation is for the same purpose (referred to as “pyramiding”). If a collective agreement is silent on the issue, there is a common law presumption against pyramiding resulting in only the greater of the two premiums being paid. The recent decision of the Manitoba Court of Appeal in Winnipeg Airports Authority…

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Security Clearance Refused Where Employee Has Possible Criminal Ties

November 25, 2015

In a recent decision, the Federal Court of Canada commented on the scope of Transport Canada’s power to grant or refuse to grant security clearance under the Aeronautics Act. Charlebois v. Canada (Attorney General) (in French only) (September 22, 2015) confirmed that the Minister of Transport can refuse to grant or renew a security clearance to work in the aviation sector where the individual applying for the clearance poses a risk to aviation security. In Charlebois, the employee was a pre-flight mechanical engineer for an airline operating out of Mirabel Airport in Montreal. He had been employed by the airline…

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B.C. Supreme Court enforces training bond agreement – rejects duress

October 7, 2015

Organizations in the aviation industry often use training bond agreements when providing training to employees. Training costs can often be prohibitive if the employee is required to pay such costs up front. Training bond agreements will generally operate to have the employer pay the costs of training on behalf of the employee, and then recoup those costs from the employee over time in smaller amounts that are more manageable for the employee. The employer obtains the benefit of having properly trained employees, while the employee obtains the benefit of the training which is often transferrable. A recent decision of the…

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Probationary employees and dismissal – “suitability” standard applies

October 2, 2015

For organizations operating in the aviation industry probationary periods for new employees are common. The probationary period enables an employer to not only assess the employee’s skills, but also their character. This in turn permits the employer to determine whether the employee will work in harmony within the organization if hired permanently. During the probationary period an employer is permitted to dismiss a probationary employee without notice and without giving reasons, provided that the employer acts in good faith in its assessment of the employee. This is a much lower bar than the just cause threshold required for the dismissal…

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Airline’s marketing runs afoul of Canada’s “anti-spam” law

September 4, 2015

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) recently announced that Porter Airlines Inc. (“Porter”) agreed to pay $150,000 for alleged violations of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). The payment by Porter is part of a larger voluntary undertaking by which Porter will implement a number of corrective measures to ensure compliance with the law. The voluntary undertaking is the culmination of a CRTC investigation alleging that between July 2014 and April 2015 Porter engaged in a number of violations of the Act. These alleged violations included: sending commercial e-mails that did not contain an unsubscribe mechanism; sending commercial e-mails that failed…

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