Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 50 seconds.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) and Toronto Airport Workers’ Council (TAWC) held a meeting on April 28, 2020 to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on Toronto Pearson International Airport. Discussions centred on the efforts being undertaken to ensure the health and safety of workers who continue to service the airport, as well as workforce recovery strategies for airport workers and employers who have experienced significant difficulties.
The discussion builds on the continuous conversations taking place since early March 2020 regarding the current situation and the various co-operative efforts between the GTAA and TAWC since 2012.
“Over the past two months, the airport and aviation industry has been tested in ways that no one could have ever imagined,” said Deborah Flint, president and CEO, GTAA. “It is vital that employers, workers and their union representatives continue to collaborate on our efforts against this pandemic so that the airport community, notably its workers, can emerge from this crisis stronger and the airport can return to its role as an economic anchor for the region. This includes actions such as an airport-wide COVID incident report and the creation of an online resource centre for airport workers who have been impacted by this crisis.”
“We are encouraged with how the GTAA has recognized the impact of COVID-19 on the worker community at Pearson,” said Sean Smith of TAWC. “The future of our airport community will be shaped by our collective response to this unprecedented crisis. Now is the time for us to work together to make the changes needed so that Pearson will remain Canada’s gateway to the world, providing good jobs to anchor the communities where we live.”
Short-term and long-term plans towards recovery for Toronto Pearson were the focal point of the meeting. Both the GTAA and TAWC remain committed to working together on:
- Continuing to work within the Toronto Pearson Worker Safety Forum on airport-wide health and safety issues and collaborate on health and safety initiatives and messages, in addition to the already extensive measures in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and Toronto Pearson employees. For example, the piloting of plexiglass barriers at counters and other workstations, with installation where practical.
- Working with airport partners, employers and health agencies to introduce a voluntary report that details instances of COVID-19 at the airport; TAWC will continue its advocacy for the government to introduce mandatory reporting.
- Jointly developing an airport-wide online resource centre to provide information on resources available to the Toronto Pearson worker community impacted by COVID-19. In future, it will expand to include services such as job search support, essential skills development programs and an airport-wide job portal to help employers and job seekers connect as the workforce returns to the airport.
- Stressing that communications remain open to ensure the voice of the labour groups at Toronto Pearson continues to be heard. This includes regular meetings between the GTAA and TAWC, and increasing communication and participation on airport wide initiatives like terminal modifications and new opportunities such as Arrivals Duty Free.
- Continuing the partnership to promote better transit connections to the airport for the employee community and encouraging employees to take transit to work where possible.
The GTAA and TAWC are committed to co-operating on the industry’s recovery, including at Toronto Pearson, while always keeping the people of Pearson at the centre of their work. The two organizations recognize the airport community’s recovery will take time and feel confident that by working together the industry will recover.
Since 2018, the GTAA and TAWC have collaborated in a joint initiative to consider best practices in addressing workplace issues at airports globally. As part of this work, the GTAA issued the first demographic survey of airport workers in North America. The survey report can be viewed here.