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Canadian MPs unanimously condemn Air Canada for millions in executive bonuses

Click to play video: 'Trudeau hopes Air Canada will explain bonuses paid out to airline’s executives after receiving government funding' Trudeau hopes Air Canada will explain bonuses paid out to airline’s executives after receiving government funding
During question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Air Canada paying out large bonuses to senior executives after receiving government funds to help the airline deal with losses incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic. – Jun 2, 2021

Members of Parliament from all parties voted unanimously on Thursday to condemn Air Canada for paying out millions of dollars in executive bonuses while negotiating a COVID-19 support package with the federal government, refusing to honour customer refunds and laying off thousands of staff.

Bloc Québécois MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval put forward the motion, which states “that this House condemn the decision of senior management of Air Canada to pay themselves $20 million in executive bonuses when they’re received $6 billion in public assistance.”

Air Canada informed shareholders on Monday that its top executives and managers were getting a combined $10 million in stock options and bonuses for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday called that “unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Air Canada’s $10M bonuses ‘unacceptable’ while laying off staff, Trudeau says

The airline is facing heavy criticism over its decision to pay out $10 million in bonuses as well as special stock options to its executives despite spending the past year laying off roughly 25,000 workers and refusing to compensate Canadians for flights cancelled because of the pandemic.

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Its board had initially approved $20 million in bonuses but paid out $10 million.

The payout late last year came as the airline was negotiating a federal support package after claiming it could not reimburse customers and had to hack away at regional flight routes out of financial difficulties.

Those bonuses also came as the airline was agreeing to federal assistance terms that stipulated it will have to limit executive compensation to $1 million while restricting dividends and share buybacks.

The government’s aid package for Air Canada included a $4-billion loan and $500 million in federal equity, plus a separate $1.4-billion loan to be used specifically to get the airline to refund customers.

Click to play video: 'Air Canada customers wanting refunds welcome news of feds’ loan to airline' Air Canada customers wanting refunds welcome news of feds’ loan to airline
Air Canada customers wanting refunds welcome news of feds’ loan to airline – Apr 13, 2021

Conservative transport critic Stephanie Kusie questioned the terms of the support package.

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“The fact that the Liberal government agreed to a deal with these terms makes it clear that only Conservatives are fighting for the health of the airline sector,” she said in a statement.

Barsalou-Duval on Wednesday called Air Canada “grifters” and Trudeau said he understands the “shock” Canadians are feeling at the airline’s decision to reward executives.
“We all are waiting for Air Canada to explain itself,” Trudeau said.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government plans to voice its concerns about the airline.

She told reporters during a phone call on Wednesday that she’s disappointed some businesses receiving taxpayer-funded federal aid to survive the pandemic aren’t behaving as good corporate citizens.

So far, the government has offered little indication of a further response to the airline’s decision.

More to come.

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