Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Senator raises air controllers’ status with officials

Yukon Senator Pat Duncan has questioned Transport Canada officials about Nav Canada’s potential curtailment or withdrawal of air traffic control services at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

By Whitehorse Star on December 1, 2020

Yukon Senator Pat Duncan has questioned Transport Canada officials about Nav Canada’s potential curtailment or withdrawal of air traffic control services at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

She posed her queries during a Standing Senate Committee on National Finance meeting last Thursday.

“Transport Canada is asking for nearly $116 million to provide essential air services to remote communities,” she said in committee.

“And we have recently learned in the Yukon, that Nav Canada is giving consideration to potentially closing down control towers at seven regional airports, including the international airport at Whitehorse, Yukon.

“Are any of the funds requested by Transport Canada being put towards ensuring that these control towers stay operational to maintain safety in Canadian airspace, and if not, what does Transport Canada propose to do to keep the regional airport towers operational?” the former Yukon premier asked.

In his response Lawrence Hanson, the assistant deputy minister, policy, told the committee that of the $116 million pledged for essential air services in remote areas, no funds will be given to Nav Canada to help them maintain continued control tower operations at the Whitehorse airport or elsewhere.

In any absence of controllers from the tower, flight services staff would provide such 24-hour services as weather and runaway conditions, but not specific guidance to pilots.

Last July, the committee, as part of a comprehensive study of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic recommended that the government work with the three territorial governments to ensure that northern airlines have sufficient financial support and access to gateway routes.

Duncan has consistently pressed government officials and Transport Minister Marc Garneau to consider the essential nature of air services in the North.

Specifically in Yukon, the independent senator referenced the gateway route issues and again the need to co-operate rather than compete in providing services to all Canadians.

The Senate committee is studying the expenditures set out in the main estimates and the supplementary rstimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.

The main estimates 2020-21 contain a total of $304.6 billion in spending, a 1.6-per-cent increase since last year.

COVID-19-related emergency expenses are not included.

The supplementary estimates (B) 2020-21, contain an additional $79.2 billion of expenses. Approximately $72 billion of these are related to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport Canada is asking for $115,782,133 to provide essential air services to remote communities.

These expenses are not related to pandemic measures.

Comments (5)

Up 7 Down 2

Oya on Dec 4, 2020 at 10:00 am

Nice to see you doing something for all that money, prestige and pension credits, Ms. Duncan. I don't recall hearing of any other input from you since you became senator, but I don't follow that closely, so admit I could be wrong on that.

Up 11 Down 9

Wilf Carter on Dec 2, 2020 at 11:21 am

When Paul Martin was finance minister what he did to cut costs of federal government operation was to off load services onto the provinces and municipalities.
Looks like Trudeau has brought the page out and is going to start to repeat the same old plan.

Up 21 Down 2

Jake The Bosun on Dec 2, 2020 at 6:12 am

Internal Government shenanigans going on here? Nav Canada is officially a "Government Agency", and not part of Transport Canada according to them, BUT in reality it's all taxpayer funded. State of the art hypocrisy. One bureaucracy is try to create a pending disaster to get public support and justify getting more of that free money. An old game with a new twist.

Up 22 Down 11

comen sense on Dec 2, 2020 at 3:11 am

No money left Larry? He doesn't care he knows he won't be traveling to the capital after the next election and after Justin is gone he will be laughing as the newly elected are scrambling to deal with unsafe airways like a car maneuvering in winter with summer tires on. This present government has been the most disastrous leadership that Canada has ever seen.

Up 18 Down 10

JC on Dec 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm

See uncle Larry. He'll put on his dark blue striped suit and cut you a multi-million dollar cheque. Daddy JT has plenty of money and his credit is good. Just ask China.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.