Ottawa plans bill to end Air Canada strike

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government is prepared to introduce legislation to end a strike at Air Canada because of the serious effect it can have on the economy, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt plans to give notice Tuesday night of back-to-work legislation, Flaherty said. This does not mean the strike will end immediately, but it gives the government the ability to put through a bill quickly when it deems it appropriate.

Nearly 4,000 of the airline’s customer service and sales agents went on strike overnight.

“Air Canada has a huge section of the market in Canada in terms of travel. It affects tourists of course but it affects business, it affects the delivery of cargo in Canada and from Canada abroad. So this is a matter of significant economic consequence,” Flaherty told reporters.

“I’ve been very mindful of the Air Canada situation. I was involved in it back in 2009 when we worked out an agreement with the unions and management about the pension situation to buy some time — several years — with respect to the pension issue there. But this is of economic consequence. I’m pleased that the minister of labor is going to act.” (Reporting Louise Egan and Randall Palmer; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)