A deal struck between Air Canada and the province will see 150 new aircraft maintenance jobs come to Manitoba.
It follows four years of legal wrangling, after Air Canada closed its Aveos maintenance facility in Winnipeg.
Under the deal, the airliner says it will bringing three of its aviation suppliers and partners to Manitoba, including Cargojet Airways, Airbase Services, and Hope Aero Propeller and Components inc.
In return, the province can’t participate in legal action against the airline for failing to meet obligations under the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
While the prospect of new jobs sounds good, former Aveos aircraft maintenance engineer Mike Maskell doesn’t think the new deal is all it’s cracked up to be.
“Well, I’m pretty shocked at the news that the province of Manitoba would accept a deal from Air Canada that’ll see very…well, probably, low paying jobs come into Canada, into Winnipeg in particular, in place of what had been here.”
Quebec was suing the airline after the closure of Aveos Fleet Performance in 2012, which led to 2600 employees in three provinces lose their jobs, including more than 400 Manitobans. Those jobs went to El Salvador.
“We had very highly skilled, highly paid jobs, and they vaporized them in 2012,” Maskell says. “And they call it a ‘Centre of Excellence.’ I find that somewhat laughable. We had a centre of excellence. We were well-known worldwide for our technical ability.”
Manitoba was an intervener in that lawsuit, which has since been dropped under the new agreement.
But not everyone is down on the deal. The prospect of bringing jobs back into the industry is music to the ears of Barry Rempel with the Winnipeg Airport Authority.
“It really does establish us with a bit of a beachhead to get, in a significant way, back into the maintenance repair and overhaul business within the aerospace sector here in Winnipeg.”
Premier Greg Selinger has some sympathy for people like Maskell, but wants to look at the positives.
“We know that, for people that lost their jobs, they’re not entirely happy because they lost good, well paying jobs. But right now we don’t have any of those jobs. Now we’re getting 150 back, and we think we can grow that starting in 2017 to a higher number of jobs.”
The centre is expected to open in 2017.