Cougar says layoffs won't affect Newfoundland offshore

Cougar Helicopters confirmed on Friday that it laid off six Search and Rescue technicians, and NDP MP Ryan Cleary says this raises a lot of questions about possible impact to rescue efforts.
A Cougar helicopter sits on the tarmac at St. John's International Airport. (CBC)

Cougar Helicopters confirmed on Friday that it laid off six search and rescue technicians, but said the layoffs won't affect operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, NDP MP Ryan Cleary said the layoffs have him concerned.

Cleary said people in Newfoundland and Labrador have lost confidence in SAR services across the province in recent years amid multiple tragedies, and wondered whether the layoffs would impact rescue wait times.

"Search and rescue, and any impact on search and rescue, any question of scaling back causes real concern for offshore workers and their families," he said.

According to Cleary, the company has an obligation to explain the cuts.

"The public's faith in search and rescue ever since the 2009 crash of Cougar Flight 491 has been up in the air, has been undermined. Faith has been shaken, so Cougar has a responsibility to come out and explain its actions."

He speculated whether or not oil companies would scale back their push for resuming night flights in light of the layoffs.

In a statement, Cougar said the layoffs are based on contractual changes outside this province.