Blog Post#1286 – Union Challenges New Ratios

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (October 2014)

The union representing more than 7000 Air Canada flight attendants is challenging a decision from the federal government to exempt the airline from maintaining the current ratio of one flight attendant for every 40 passenger seats.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says it has filed a legal challenge with the Federal Court to have the exemption quashed on the ground that it ignored the criteria set out in the Aeronautics Act for granting such an exemption. In a statement issued on August 8, 2014, CUPE says it has asked the Federal Court for it judicial review of Transport Canada’s decision to allow Air Canada to decrease the ratio to one flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats, which union says could adversely affect worker and Public Safety.

But a notice of proposed amendment from the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council in March 2014 found that “a 50 to 1 passenger seat operating rule that, on some occasions, will provide less on other locations, a more than equivalent level of safety to the current 40 to 1 operating rule is acceptable.”

Michel Cournoyer, president of CUPE’s Airline Division, says flight attendants are the “first line of defence” when things go wrong on an aircraft. “Fewer flight attendants means more risks for passengers,” he contends.

A CUPE fact sheet says a similar exemption was granted to WestJet in May 2013 and to Sunwing in October of the same year. Transport Canada is proposing to change the regulation to allow all Canadian airlines to switch to the 50 to 1 ratio.

“Real-life accidents and scientific studies show that flight-attendant staffing ratios of 40 to 1 or better to improve passenger chances of escaping in the event of an emergency,” the fact sheet concludes.

My opinion

I realized this is a federal decision and not a provincial one but the Canadian government MUST take into consideration the safety aspect of air travel and not just a direct cost issue.

An unsafe flight where passengers get injured because of rowdy or danger passengers will come back to bite the airline specifically and the industry in general.

Safety does not have to be a costly part of any business BUT it can be if safety ends up being ignored.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

Leave a Comment