The economy of the North Shore “taken hostage” by Air Canada

L’économie de la Côte-Nord «prise en otage» par Air Canada

SEPT-ÎLES | elected officials, and chambers of commerce of the North Coast are mobilizing to denounce the suspension of 30 air routes Air Canada and the closure of eight stops.

“For me, it is a hostage taking of our economy”, launched on Friday, the prefect of the Minganie RCM, Luke Christmas.

According to the elected officer based in Havre-St-Pierre, Air Canada uses the economic impact of the withdrawal of its air service in the regions in order to obtain government grants. Based on a study published by the Institute for research in contemporary economics (IRÉC), it points the finger at the deregulation of the transport industry conducted by Ottawa, which would, according to him, companies such as Air Canada to withdraw from the market when the customer is found to be insufficient.

“It is sure that it affects our economy. The business people among us, as much as the business people of the Seven Islands, it is known that about 70 % of the flights are occupied by business people of the region. So it has a significant economic impact on our region,” said Luc Noël.

A service interruption “catastrophic”

The CEO of Int-it corporation, Mirka Boudreau, considered as “catastrophic” the suspension of the link between Sept-Îles and Wabush for his company, which is looking to develop in northern Quebec.

“It is sure that our company had three areas of major development, the north, Montreal and the surrounding area and Latin America. On the one hand, the elimination of the flight Wabush-Sept-Îles is a disaster. So we will have to go by road, go to Baie-Comeau and go by the road [389], a road that is winding and dangerous,” said Ms. Boudreau, who feared that Air Canada decided to eliminate its binding to Sept-Îles and Montréal.

Active since 2017, Int-it corporation has 67 permanent and temporary employees. The company offers engineering services, manufacturing-general, to parts subject to wear, and outsourcing labour to the mining industry.

“Cut the wings” of the economic development

In the late afternoon of Thursday, eight chambers of commerce of the East-du-Québec and Abitibi-Témiscamingue have issued a press release denouncing the decision by Air Canada to suspend indefinitely 30 air links and close eight stops.

According to the president of the Chamber of commerce of Sept-Îles, Jessica Bélisle, it could harm the economic recovery.

“There is talk of economic recovery, lately, with everything that happened with the COVID-19, and there, you have to cut the wings of the economic development that could be done in the regions. It is true that there are people of the Seven Islands which go to the outside for meetings, as much of the environment as a tourist business,” she mentioned.

The chambers of commerce of the North Shore, “requested the governments to get involved quickly in the folder and drive a restructuring of the service regional airline”.

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