Okanagan MP Dan Albas flew into the prime minister’s airspace Wednesday to share his concerns about Air Canada’s announcement 24 hours earlier that it’s suspending service to Penticton Regional Airport as of Jan. 11.
“Those that rely on this airport do not have access to a government jet like the health minister, and they certainly don’t have the luxury of waiting for months as this government dithers and delays,” Albas, a Conservative who represents Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, said during Question Period in Parliament.
“Will the prime minster do something now or is he telling the residents of the area that they should go fly a kite, because they certainly won’t be flying?”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied that his Liberal government is already doing what it can to ensure airlines keep flying during turbulent times.
“We have expressed over the past many months our concerns over the suspension of regional routes, and will continue to work with airlines to ensure support and protection of regional routes, particularly once we get through this pandemic and want to start travelling again,” said Trudeau.
“But as I said, no sector-specific support will go to the airlines until they return refunds to Canadians and until they show us a plan for restoring regional routes.”
Air Canada said in a statement Tuesday the suspension of service between Vancouver and Penticton will be indefinite, and is due mainly to low passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic.
As of Jan. 12, the only commercial flights available from YYF will be daily trips to Calgary offered by WestJet.
MP Richard Cannings, a New Democrat who represents South Okanagan-West Kootenay, also got crack at the prime minister in Question Period.
Cannings used his opportunity to talk about a constituent named “Carol” who is struggling to stay afloat, while at least 68 companies that received federal relief funds this year still paid out dividends to their shareholders.
“Why do the Liberals always help the rich, but keep Canadians like Carol in poverty?” asked Cannings.
Trudeau replied with a list of aid programs his government “rolled out in record time” to help get Canadians of all stripes them through the pandemic.