Toronto Pearson releases results of Canada’s first airport workforce survey

Greater Toronto Airports Authority Press Release | October 3, 2019

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Toronto Pearson released a summary report of the first ever multi-employer workforce survey conducted at a Canadian airport. The report was developed in cooperation with the Peel-Halton Workforce Development Group and Northstar Research Partners. The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Toronto Airport Workers Council (TAWC), resulted in the collection of 3,582 survey responses from employees across Pearson.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Toronto Airport Workers Council, resulted in the collection of 3,582 survey responses from employees across Pearson. Andy Cline Photo
The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Toronto Airport Workers Council, resulted in the collection of 3,582 survey responses from employees across Pearson. Andy Cline Photo

The findings in the report, titled Understanding the Pearson Workforce, suggest that the 50,000 people who work at Pearson for over 400 companies reflect Canada’s diversity. Employees see Pearson as a place where they can build their careers and feel that working at Pearson is a point of pride.

The data from the survey indicates areas for future work and collaboration among the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), employers, unions and other stakeholders. While results support a general finding that Pearson provides good, stable employment opportunities for thousands of employees, there are elements of employment precarity within the airport work environment, particularly for those who work part-time and for minimum wage. Moreover, employees’ desire for enhanced transit connections to and from the airport emerged as a clear theme.

Primary findings of the survey include:

  • Pearson’s employees are diverse in terms of age, immigration status, ethnicity, education levels and family make-up.
  • Pearson provides a strong and stable work environment with opportunities for employee growth and development, and this is reflected in employee satisfaction and attitudes toward working at the airport.
  • Employees view Pearson as a workplace that provides opportunity for advancement and career growth. The majority of employees believe that Pearson provides not only a good job today, but also opportunity to grow and advance, and although they express a desire to advance from their current jobs, they want to stay at the airport in their next role. This extends to those with elements of precarity in their work arrangements, such as minimum wage and part-time work.

In addition to the above, it was found that commuting represents a primary challenge for the workforce at Pearson, with an average daily commute time of two hours. The majority of respondents commute by car to Pearson, even if they live close to the airport, and most employees feel that they do not have viable transit options for their commute.

With the aim of giving more employees access to transit, the GTAA has partnered with Metrolinx on an innovative pilot fare program that aims to help Pearson employees choose GO Transit as an alternative to driving for their daily commute to and from the airport. The pilot, funded by the GTAA, will begin in late 2019 and is a measurable step toward addressing some of the transit-related learnings gleaned from the workforce survey.

“The results of Canada’s first ever airport workforce survey are heartening in that they reinforce what most people who work at Pearson already know — the airport is dynamic, the workforce is diverse, and rewarding, long-term careers are built here,” said Howard Eng, president and CEO, GTAA. “The survey results also point to avenues that require further exploration, including determining, in cooperation with employers and unions, ways in which employees can be provided with more growth opportunities, as well as giving workers more choice when it comes to transit options to and from the airport.”

“Pearson is a small city, with some 50,000 people working for hundreds of companies,” said Steven Tufts, spokesperson for TAWC. “We’re pleased with the collaborative approach that Pearson is taking to understanding the demographic profile of Pearson’s workforce and we’re looking forward to continuing in that spirit of collaboration as we explore future work based on these results, particularly with regard to addressing precarity and improving transit options for Pearson employees.”

The survey and summary report represent the latest step in a plan developed in consultation with TAWC. Upcoming work, informed by these survey results, will focus on sharing the survey results with a variety of stakeholders and exploring programs and potential policy interventions to respond to what employees have said about their desire to grow their careers.

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