The Canada Industrial Relations Board has certified a bargaining unit including in-flight paramedics its first decision to consider whether air ambulance services fall under federal or provincial jurisdiction.

Represented by MMW Law’s Sarah Molyneaux, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 175 argued that their new members’ employer was federally regulated because it was, in essence, an airline and because its airplanes and employees crossed provincial and national borders. The employer argued that the Board lacked the statutory and constitutional jurisdiction to certify a unit including its paramedics, who it contended were subject to provincial regulation because they worked for a healthcare provider.

The Board agreed with the Union and found that:

“the habitual activity of the employer’s operations is that of air transportation on its airplanes. For whom or what end it flies these airplanes does not alter that it is in the business of providing air transportation. Since Parliament has seen fit to give the Board explicit jurisdiction over aircrafts and air transportation, the Board find that Northern Air’s entire operations, including its air ambulance operations, constitute a federal undertaking”

The employer has applied for judicial review of this matter at the Federal Court of Appeal.


United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 175 v Northern Air Solutions Inc, 2015 CIRB 773

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