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You may recall that Part III of the Labour Code was amended to provide new rights and entitlements to the federally regulated employees, relating to hours of work. The amendments came in to force on September 1 2019, although not with “full application”. In accordance with Interpretation, Policy and Guideline 101, which also came into effect on September 1, the Federal government permitted employers to “carry on business as usual” for certain classes of employees.

To help inform further modifications and exemptions, Employment and Social Development Canada released a discussion paper seeking stakeholder feedback.

On March 3 2020, Labour Canada Representatives met with Industry and Labour groups to discuss the modifications and exemptions under consideration. HAC was made representations and will make further representations in writing in mid-March. 

Fundamentally, HAC’s concerns stem from the application of the Fatigue Management Regulations, set out in the CARs, and certain elements of the new Hours of Work Provisions set out in the Canada Labour Code, which would cause significant hardship to the commercial helicopter community. For example, the new provisions of the Labour Code require federally regulated employers to provide their employees with:

  • 96 hours notice of their work schedule (including stand-by or on-call duty), failing which an employee can refuse a work shift or work period starting less than 96 hours after notice is given;
  • 24 hours notice of shift change

Labour Canada is not currently planning on providing an exemption from these provisions for helicopter or airplane pilots, although they did appear to be open to input from HAC and the Canadian Business Aviation community on this subject during the March 3 meeting. HAC explained during that meeting, that in the helicopter industry, often “schedules” are determined in an isolated camp setting the night before, or the morning-of operations - with the customer - based on local weather, under circumstances where there may be no other flight crews available for hundreds of miles. What’s more, in a camp setting, flight crews have no domestic or family responsibilities. Our challenge is explaining the unique circumstances of the on-demand helicopter industry to Labour Canada.