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Air Canada employees feared reprisal for reporting safety concerns, Transport Canada found




Air Canada employees feared they would be punished by managers if they reported safety concerns, according to a never-before released report from a 2013 government inspection of the country’s largest airline.

The finding by Transport Canada raises questions about the strength of the airline’s internal system meant to flag risks before they become safety problems.

Transport Canada inspectors in 2013 found that some Air Canada employees feared they would face reprisal if they reported safety concerns to management. The airline said the inspection report “references isolated observations” and no employee has ever been disciplined for filing a safety report.
Transport Canada inspectors in 2013 found that some Air Canada employees feared they would face reprisal if they reported safety concerns to management. The airline said the inspection report “references isolated observations” and no employee has ever been disciplined for filing a safety report.  (Jeff Chiu / AP)

But the public is only learning about the five-year-old inspection results now because Air Canada had taken the federal government to court to try to block portions of the records from being released through Access to Information legislation. The airline said disclosure would be “misleading” and bad for business.

“Some employees felt uncomfortable about submitting a safety report because of the possibility of being interviewed, for the purpose of safety report investigation, by the same person who had the authority to take disciplinary measures,” inspectors found in a October 2013 audit of the airline’s internal safety management system, obtained by the Star.

In April, a federal court judge ruled that Air Canada failed to show how public disclosure could result in material financial harm to the airline. The records were finally released in late September.

Air Canada said in a statement that the inspection report “references isolated observations and is not representative.”

“No employee has ever been disciplined for filing a safety report at Air Canada,” spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said. “Air Canada actively encourages safety reporting by all employees.”

Last year, the airline’s staff filed nearly 26,000 internal safety management system reports, covering anything from a tripping hazard in a hangar to a plane taking a “go-around” because the conditions are not right for a landing, Fitzpatrick said. “(This is) evidence that our employees are highly engaged safety professionals,” he said.

Large airlines in Canada must have a safety management system (SMS) to internally monitor potential safety hazards. As part of its regulation of the aviation industry, Transport Canada increasingly relies on airlines’ self monitoring, which the regulator audits with periodic inspections.

However, a key component of SMS is that all employees — from maintenance workers to pilots — feel comfortable flagging potential problems, and Transport Canada’s findings at Air Canada raise concerns about whether the airline’s self-monitoring can be trusted, critics say.

Behind Air Canada’s never-before released inspection reports | Story Behind the Story

“(If) there is real potential it’s not working because people won’t report (problems), the wheels fall off a bit,” said Mark Laurence, national chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association.

Air Canada said its safety management system is effective.

“We safely operate nearly 1,600 flights daily, or more than one flight every minute of the day on average, and in 2017 we carried 48 million people, more than the entire population of Canada, who arrived safe at their destinations,” Air Canada’s Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

Air Canada went to federal court in March 2017 to block the disclosure of portions of two surveillance reports: an October 2013 assessment of Air Canada and a June 2014 inspection of its low-cost subsidiary, Air Canada Rouge.

Though the details of these government surveillance reports are not public, they are obtainable through Access to Information legislation. Transport Canada had initially planned to release the Air Canada reports in response to a 2016 Access to Information request seeking the latest inspection reports for several major Canadian airlines, but Air Canada appealed the decision to federal court.

Retired judge Virgil Moshansky, who presided over an inquiry into the 1989 plane crash in Dryden, Ont., said the new "explanatory note" attached to government inspection reports of airlines is "double speak" that appears more concerned with protecting the reputation of the companies than standing by the findings of its inspectors.
Retired judge Virgil Moshansky, who presided over an inquiry into the 1989 plane crash in Dryden, Ont., said the new « explanatory note » attached to government inspection reports of airlines is « double speak » that appears more concerned with protecting the reputation of the companies than standing by the findings of its inspectors.  (MIKE STURK)

During the original inspections, federal agents found both Air Canada and Rouge were non-compliant in areas of “safety oversight” and “training, awareness and competence.” (The non-compliance found in the reports relates to the airlines’ own safety monitoring systems, not the safety of the planes themselves.)

During the Air Canada Rouge assessment, Transport Canada saw two cabin safety instructors incorrectly demonstrating emergency procedures during a training session. “In both instances, the partner instructor did not recognize their partner’s error. The errors were pointed out by the students attending the class,” the surveillance report found.

Air Canada said in a statement that these findings were from more than four years ago, and the company acted immediately “to reconcile differences in interpretation and, most importantly, to address the issues raised” by Transport Canada.

Both airlines’ safety management systems were reinspected: Air Canada’s in 2015 and Rouge’s in 2016. Again, Transport Canada found neither was compliant in the areas of “safety oversight” or “quality assurance.”

Neither Air Canada nor Rouge has any outstanding safety compliance issues, the regulator said. Transport Canada says the country has one of the safest, most secure air transportation systems in the world.

The reports contain summaries of the problems flagged by inspectors, which range from “minor” administrative issues to “major” findings described by the government as system-wide failures that will take more time and effort to fix. The two findings described in this article — employees being fearful of reporting safety problems and instructors giving incorrect safety demonstrations — are classified as “moderate,” which Transport Canada says would likely be corrected with a “simple modification to a process.”

Air Canada said keeping inspections of airline’s internal safety systems confidential encourages employees to be more candid when reporting concerns. In court filings, an Air Canada managing director warned that the technical documents could be misconstrued without proper context, causing the airline’s reputation to be unfairly damaged. “It is highly prejudicial to an airline’s competitive position for its safety record to be questioned on the basis of information that is inaccurate or is otherwise misleading,” the director said.

To avoid potential misunderstanding, the judge suggested Transport Canada release the reports with an “explanatory note.” The note, published under Transport Canada letterhead, was the product of a back-and-forth between lawyers from the airline and government.

The final copy reads, in part, “A finding of non-compliance should not be understood to mean an airline does not comply with regulatory requirements. Rather, a finding of non-compliance may indicate that the airline could implement better practices and procedures that are viewed by inspectors as being a better means of implementing regulatory requirements.”

This language is concerning for Virgil Moshanky, a retired judge whose inquiry into a 1989 plane crash near Dryden, Ont., led to sweeping changes of Canada’s aviation safety system. The note, he said, suggests the regulator is more concerned with protecting the reputation of the airlines than standing by the findings of its inspectors.

“It’s double speak. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Jesse McLean is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter: @jesse_mclean


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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