Letter to Premier Ford re: Rapid Testing at Airports


December 15, 2020

Honourable Doug Ford, Office of the Premier
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

sent via e-mail: @email

Dear Premier Ford,

I was pleased to read of your support for the addition of rapid testing to the safe and healthy border control measures here in Ontario.

Unifor has been advocating for a full-blown industry support package for the air transportation industry since the start of the pandemic and subsequent border closures. With a 96% drop in GDP between February and April of this year and no healthy rebound in sight, the air transportation industry is poised to be the industry most heavily affected by the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.

Unifor represents 20% of Canada’s air transportation workers. Our members work in every sub-sector of the industry and include pilots, customer service representatives, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, aircraft mechanics, airport workers, and flight attendants. They transport both people and cargo to domestic and international locations throughout the world.
Canada needs to think nationally and strategically for our transportation sector to emerge from the COVID-era able to compete and once again contribute to the thriving country it helped create.

Any recovery strategy must focus on three key areas:

  • A prudent, safe and science-based approach to border controls that adopts the International Standard for facilitating passenger flights across international borders;
  • An industry support package that ensures companies are viable, people remain employed and skills are maintained;
  • A vision for the future that includes decent work; robust health and safety standards and a thriving industry for passengers and workers.

The addition of rapid testing to Canada’s safe and healthy border control measures is an integral part of the overall set of policies that will keep the industry intact, the highly skilled workers certified and capacity ready to return as soon as COVID-19 is under control fully.

When it comes to travel and quarantine, we’ve learned a lot since the onset of the pandemic. For example, it is now abundantly clear that transmission of COVID-19 on an aircraft is minimal. This is the result of the extensive health and safety protocols airlines and air transportation workers have developed to keep themselves and the travelling public safe.

In addition, the accuracy and speed of testing have improved dramatically in recent months. The Government of Canada’s approval of the Abbott rapid test in October is an indicator of this. Rapid testing coupled with dynamic quarantines depending on test results, can be a positive addition to border requirements that reduces travel restrictions while keeping the Canadian public safe.

Of course, travellers must be reminded to continue social distancing and wearing a mask even after the
receipt of a negative test to have the best chance at remaining COVID-free.

The industry supports employment for 141,000 people, contributes $35 billion a year in GDP and
connects people to jobs, community and health care across the country in a way that no other industry

On behalf of our members, I look forward to discussing this issue with you further.


Jerry Dias
Unifor National President