Ten years ago Transport Canada (TC) privatized the CheckPilot program to outside contractors instead of keeping it in-house. Now, UCTE has learned that they are taking the next step in their contract creep and are contracting out the work of UCTE administrative staff. Furthermore, this process of contracting out may also put members in the TI groups at risk as well.
In March 2021, UCTE was advised of Transport Canada’s plan to contract out the administration and invigilation of professional exams within Civil Aviation. Transport Canada has a mandate to regulate people performing particular functions within the Canadian civil aviation system and has certification processes in place to confirm that a candidate meets the regulatory requirements for a particular activity in order to be issued a Canadian Aviation Document (license). This process by an unbiased third-party regulator ensures the highest level of safety for the travelling public. Unfortunately, TC wants to absolve themselves of this responsibility.
Using the excuse that they must provide services while limiting the spread of COVID-19 as well blaming an over-worked staff, last August TC decided to proceed with a contract for the administration and invigilation of the knowledge examinations, along with the associated question development and maintenance function.
This will eliminate approximately 25% of the work currently being conducted by our members in the PA group – a significant percentage of their meaningful work. We will not stand for this.
UCTE is challenging this decision. TC may have increased hiring in the last year, but they are only catching up with significant vacancies that had not been filled because of austerity measures. We agree that current staff are over-worked. TC has a history of expecting more work from fewer people. Contracting out is not the solution. This sequence of events is similar to the playbook used by governments wanting to privatize work around the world – starve the system of workers, exhaust the existing workers, make excuses that work needs to be contracted out because it’s not getting done, and allow private interests to take over increasingly larger pieces of the public service until there is nothing left. Transport Canada is trying use their own negligence as a justification for contracting out meaningful work – an action that has been shown time and time again to cost taxpayers more than keeping the work in-house while providing poorer service. This is simply absurd.
We will keep you advised as the situation progresses.