Feds commit to making NL airports safer for staff

Government investing in the millions to purchase safety equipment

Feds commit to making NL airports safer for staff

Ottawa has announced that it is investing to enhance safety at local and regional airports in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The federal government is allocating $1.4 million for safety-related projects and equipment that will help maintain safe airport operations for airport workers, crews and passengers.

“Local and regional airports play an integral role in Canada’s transportation system and are important hubs for the communities they serve,” said Gudie Hutchings, minister of rural economic development. “This funding will help ensure continued safe and reliable airport operations for residents, many of whom depend on their local airport not only for personal and business travel, but also for community resupply of essential goods as well as access to routine and emergency medical care in larger centres.”

From the funding, Gander Airport will receive $863,625 to purchase a loader, a snowplow and a sweeper while Stephenville Airport will receive $376,000 to purchase a runway surface friction tester and a sweeper.

Deer Lake Airport will also receive $205,000 to purchase a grader. 

This funding is in addition to the more than $8 million announced under the program in May 2021 to support safety-related projects at the Churchill Falls, Deer Lake, Gander, and Stephenville airports, according to the federal government. 

In February 2020, a Toronto court put Vixman Construction under an 18-month probation and fined the company $125,000 for a fatal incident at the city’s Billy Bishop Airport that killed one worker.

The charges stemmed from a March 27, 2018, incident, when Vixman Construction was contracted to install corrugated steel sheeting to form a roof over several new walkways from the gates to the tarmac of the airport.

Omar Alghabra, minister of transport, recognized the importance of airports amid the pandemic and the value of the federal government’s recent investments.

“The pandemic highlighted the important role Canada’s local and regional airports play in our country’s economy, and in sustaining the social and economic well-being of our communities. In addition to supporting personal travel, local and regional airports are key connectors for business, health care, social services, and emerging resource development sectors,” he said.

“These investments will improve access to safe, reliable and efficient air transportation options, and will help us deliver our commitment to build safer, healthier and stronger communities as Canada recovers from the pandemic.”

The Airports Capital Assistance Program received a one-time funding top-up of $186 million over two years, as announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2020.

The Fall Economic Statement 2020 also announced the temporary expansion of eligibility for the Airports Capital Assistance Program to allow National Airports System airports with less than one million annual passengers in 2019 to apply for funding under the Program in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

The eligible National Airports System airports are Gander, Charlottetown, Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Thunder Bay, London and Prince George.

Last month, the union representing firefighters at the St. John’s International Airport sounded the alarm on what they described as a “toxic workplace” culture.