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Helicopter pilots say they’re shut out of jobs by temporary foreign workers

OTTAWA — Count Canadian helicopter pilots among those outraged by the federal government’s troubled temporary foreign worker program.

Pilots say they’re being denied jobs in favour of cheaper temporary foreign workers.

Dozens of so-called labour market opinion applications for temporary employees from private helicopter companies across Canada say they’re unable to find domestic pilots.

One longtime helicopter pilot says temporary foreign workers are typically paid half of what their Canadian counterparts make, and accuses helicopter operators of capitalizing on the program to increase their profit margins.

He says he applied to several jobs at companies and was told each time there were no openings, only to later learn they had applied for temporary foreign workers.

One aviation industry expert says when companies say they can’t find qualified workers, federal officials are unable to confirm the claims and rarely investigate further.

Gilles Hudicourt, a longtime Air Transat pilot who’s spent years crusading against the temporary foreign worker program in the aviation sector, says “the poor helicopter pilot in Canada” is particularly victimized by system.

Most of them aren’t unionized, he says, and are afraid to complain publicly for fear of being blacklisted by helicopter operators.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter at (at)leeanne25



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