New Government, New Expectations: What The Newly Elected Liberal Government Has Promised Labour And The Middle Class

It has been over a week since the excitement of the election, and with the results in, we know we are in for four years of a Liberal majority government with Justin Trudeau at the helm.

There were a lot of promises made by all parties, but we thought we would take a look at what the Liberal Government has promised when it comes to labour and the middle class in Canada.

Labour Laws

The Liberal government has promised to restore ‘fair and balanced labour laws that acknowledge the important role of unions in Canada.’ They pointed out that under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party many fundamental labour rights have been rolled back.  They said they will begin with repealing Bills C-377 and C-525.

Skills Training

The economy was a hot button issue during the election campaign and the Liberal party has promised  to help Canadians get the training they need to find good jobs. They have said they will do this by making it easier for adults to access training programs, they will invest $50 million to renew and expand funding to Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training and provide $25 million each year for training facilities delivered in partnership with labour unions.

Infrastructure Investments

They have also promised historic new investments in infrastructure to grow Canada's economy. They are promising to nearly double federal infrastructure investment to almost $125 billion, make an immediate down payment to kick-start job creation and economic growth by doubling the current federal infrastructure investment in each of the next two fiscal years, and provide new, dedicated funding to provinces, territories, and municipalities for infrastructure.

Parental Benefits

Working with provinces and territories to amend labour codes, the Liberal government has focused in on more flexible parental benefits. They want to allow for parents to receive benefits in smaller blocks of time over a period of up to 18 months and also have the ability to take up to 18 month leave when combined with maternity benefits at a lower benefit level.

Veterans Entering The Workforce

The Liberal government has pointed out that veterans often find it difficult to build a new career after they have been serving. They have promised to invest $80 million every year to create a new Veterans Education Benefit, which will provide full support for the costs of up to for years of post secondary. They said they want to help veterans re-enter the workforce and help expand Canada’s skilled labour force.

Protect Middle Class Growth

Working with Canada’s labour movement, the Liberal government has promised to create jobs, grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. They stated that they will work with provinces and territories to enhance the Canada Pension Plan and develop a ‘made in Canada’ solution to solve the skills shortage. They have also promised a plan to invest in infrastructure, which they say will create jobs. They have also decided to give the middle class a tax break, which will save middle class Canadians $670 per person, per year.


In Order To Have Healthy Workers, A Healthy Workplace Is Needed

Your job is where you spend most of the hours of your day, that adds up over a person's life span. How you interact with others, what you are paid and how many hours you work, all have a huge impact on overall well being.

consultation of the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act in Ontario highlighted this fact.

"The health-promoting or health-damaging nature of workplaces impacts all workers, their families, neighbourhoods, communities and societies," said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe with the Sudbury & District Health Unit.

She said that working conditions may not seem to fall within the public health mandate, but workplaces are a ‘critical determinant of health.’
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As more and more jobs are becoming part time or temporary, people are receiving lower wages, less vacation, less health benefits and no pensions – people are experiencing physical and mental health issues in the workplace.

She said that the ‘union advantage’ where employees who are unionized earn more, is lost in these types of jobs and workplaces. More needs to be done to protect workers.

"In order to have a healthy workforce, we need health-enhancing and health-protecting workplaces,” she said.

She recommended allowing for 'greater employee control of their workplaces, paid emergency leave and sick time for workers, and more vacation times.'

Another Ontario organization that is concerned with health in the workplace is mining giant Vale.

Over the next three years workers will be asked to complete voluntary questionnaires and interviews about mental well being with researchers from  Laurentian University.

The project lead Dr. Michel Lariviere said ‘he can't find any research on mental health in the workplace, regardless of the industry.’ A surprising fact considering the impact of mental health in the workplace.

According to an article on CBC.ca about a quarter of disability claims at Vale are related to a mental health issue.

Mental health is a very important topic for Teamsters Local 362. On June 15, 2012, three members were fatally shot and a fourth was critically injured while on the job.
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This affected friends, families and coworkers, so Teamsters 362 started a mental health initiative to get more support for all Canadian workers when it comes to mental health.

Teamsters Canada has also recently launched a similar mental health initiative, also looking to get more mental health support and awareness for Canadian workers.

With more and more health professionals, unions and organizations speaking out about mental health, it is clear more needs to be done in the workplace.


Canada Election Night Recap: Big Winners And Surprises From The 2015 Federal Election

Authorized By Teamsters Local 362 

After 78 days of commercials, election signs, debates and campaigning – it all came down to the results on Oct 19. With such a tight race, Canadians across the country were anxious to see what the next four years of leadership would look like in Canada.

In the end, it was a night that started out with Liberal domination, and although the prairies stayed mostly true to the Conservatives, the Liberal party rode the wave of support to be elected to a majority government with Justin Trudeau elected as our new 'prime minister-designate.'

We have highlighted some of the biggest headline making moments of election night.

More Women In Parliament

This election was a win for women and minorities. There were more visible minorities running in 2015 than in the past four voting years, making up 14 per cent of the candidates. After all of the votes were counted, a total of 88 women had been elected as MP’s up from 76 in the last election.

Surprising Losses

As the results came in from Atlantic Canada at the beginning of the night, some pretty surprising losses began to pop up. Conservative Gail Shea in P.E.I. who was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans lost her seat, along with the NDP's Peter Stoffer, who has won Parliamentarian of the Year twice, lost in Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, N.S. Another huge loss was Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe who lost in his riding of Laurier–Sainte–Marie.

Voter Turnout

As of early Tuesday morning, results were showing that around 68 per cent of eligible Canadians voted in this election, 7 per cent more than 2011 voter turnout. More than 17 million people in total came out to vote in this election, with 3.6 million voting in advanced polls making it the highest voter turnout since 1993.

Harper Steps Down

Although Harper won in his riding of Calgary Heritage, he decided to step down as leader of the Conservative Party after running in his fifth federal election. Speaking to a packed house in Calgary, Harper didn’t mention that he would be stepping down, but a representative from the party released a short statement shortly before Harper took the stage.

NDP Defeats and Liberal Western Gains

The NDP had made some major gains in the last election, but went from 95 seats to only 40 last night, making their share of the popular vote only 19 per cent by the end of the night. Meanwhile the Liberals made history in Alberta winning seats with Kent Hehr in Calgary Centre and Darshan Singh Kang in Calgary Skyview – the first elected Liberals in Calgary since 1968.

Underestimation Of Trudeau

After the announcement of the Liberal majority last night, many political experts pointed to the underestimation of Justin Trudeau as the downfall of the other parties. The other parties tried to highlight his inexperience during the long campaign, but it ended up backfiring in the end with the Liberals rising from third to first near the end of the campaign. Some have pointed to the niqab debate, others the blitz of Liberal ads near the end of the campaign as what helped boost their support.


New Electoral Districts Could Mean Some Close Races On Election Night (Authorized By Teamsters Local 362)

Authorized By Teamsters Local 362

This election has been exciting for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is the redrawing of electoral districts in Canada. Chances are you might be in an entirely new riding, with a different name and have brand new candidates to learn all about.

There are a total of 30 new ridings in Canada this year, and according to political experts, this is going to make for some exciting and close races on Oct. 19.

How were the redistributed?

Every ten years a redistribution process takes place in Canada right after a census and is calculated by experts to reflect our changing population as a nation, especially in larger urban areas such as Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.

The addition of the 30 new ridings is the largest in Canada’s history, according to CBC.

They pointed out that the process of redistribution started in 2012 when ‘ten independent electoral boundaries commissions — one in each province —  were tasked with determining the new boundaries.’ These commissions would consult with the public within the boundaries and also the current MP’s.

Ontario now has 15 new ridings, Quebec will get three and B.C. and Alberta will each get six.

Why redistribute them?

The purpose is to try and keep things even when it comes to voting in the federal election – as the population fluctuates the electoral districts should reflect that. It is so each riding represents close to the same amount of people, while taking into account other legal requirements.

And the redistribution does make a difference, according to Bob Weiers, an Elections reporter for CBC news. If the new ridings were in place in 2011 the Conservatives would have had 22 more seats, the NDP six more and the Liberals two.

What does it mean for this year's election?

According to Alice Funke, of Pundits' Guide in an interview with CBC, more than a third of the 338 House of Commons seats ‘will be new or have either an unfamiliar sitting member of Parliament or no sitting member on the ballot.’

This means we should be in for a pretty exciting election this year with a lot of fresh faces.

There are more urban MP’s than ever before in Canada and this means people voting in big cities will see a lot more attention from the party leaders.

The provinces with the addition of more seats will be intriguing areas to watch and may prove to be crucial in overall polls.

It might be a close race in some areas, so make sure you get out and vote!


Young People Facing Unsafe Workplaces In Alberta According To Report

It is unfortunate, but it is still the case that employers will sometimes take advantage of employees who do not have the resources to stand up for themselves in the workplace.

This was made clear in a recent report in Alberta that has found that many young people with part time jobs are doing ‘illegal or unsafe work’ in the province.

The report was released by the Parkland Institute and found some disturbing statistics.

Up to 70 per cent of 12 to 14-year-olds are working in prohibited positions, nearly half of all employed teens in Alberta suffer work-related injuries and many routinely face wage-theft and sexual harassment.

"The problem is that the rules are frequently ignored by employers, and the complaints-driven enforcement system is failing to adequately protect teens from illegal and unsafe work," said Bob Barnetson in an interview with CBC news.

Barnetson is a professor at Athabasca University and conducted the research.

Labour unions are committed to workplace safety with studies showing that workplaces with Labour Unions tend to have lower occupational injury and illness rates.

Labour unions make certain that all of its members are safe in the workplace regardless of age or any other factors.

Members are able to reach out to a shop steward or business agent if they are having any issues with health or safety in the workplace. This doesn’t just apply to physical health, but mental health as well, with Teamsters 362 creating awareness through a campaign about mental health in the workplace.

A huge problem is that employers ‘have little incentive to follow employment standards given the lack of effective monitoring or meaningful penalties’ according to Barnetson.

“Basically, employers have gotten used to the fact that the province has turned a blind eye to employment problems,” said Barnetson in an interview with the Calgary Herald. “There’s no chance you’re going to get caught and there’s no chance you’re going to get punished. So, of course, employers just ignore employment laws.”

He pointed out that there have only been four prosecutions related to teen employment since 2000.


Voting 101: Everything You Need To Know To Vote In The Federal Election (Authorized By Teamsters Local 362)

Authorized By Teamsters Local 362

The federal election is just a week away and even if you don’t know who you are voting for yet, you should be getting prepared to vote.

Just in case you still have a few questions when it comes to voting this year, we have some quick facts to make sure you have no problems getting out to vote.

How do I know if I am eligible to vote in the federal election?

You are eligible to vote in the federal election if you are a Canadian citizen, you are at least 18 years old and you can prove your identity and address.

You can check if you are registered to vote here. If you are not registered you have until Tuesday Oct. 13 to register.

Some elements of voting have changed since the Fair Elections Act was implemented, you can find more information in a blog piece we wrote.

When Can I vote?

Monday Oct. 19 is the official Election Day and poling stations will be open for 12 hours that day.

Voting hours listed by Elections Canada across the country:

Newfoundland Time: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Atlantic Time: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Eastern Time: 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Central Time: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Mountain Time (and Saskatchewan in the 2015 election because of daylight saving time): 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Pacific Time: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

I am registered to vote, but I am unable to make it out on Oct 19. How can I still vote?

Advance voting days will be held from Oct. 9 - 12, from noon to 8 p.m. The location of where you can vote in advance is located on your voter registration card or you can visit the Elections Canada website for the information.

Until Oct. 13, you can also vote at one of Elections Canada’s 400 offices by special ballot. Find the office nearest you here or you can also vote by mail, but you must apply to do this.

Do I get time off from work to go and vote?

By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off. It is the law and they must follow it.

However, your employer has the right to decide when the time off will be given.

I am registered to vote, but I have no idea where to go to cast my ballot. Where can I find out where I vote?

This election there are 338 electoral districts, up from 308 in the 2011 election – so you may not be aware of what riding you are located in even if you voted in the last election.

The Elections Canada website allows you to enter your postal code and all of the information on what riding you are located in and where to vote will also be listed.

What have the voter turnouts been like in the past few elections?

The last election was held in 2011 and had a turnout of 61 per cent and in 2008 there was only 58 per cent, one of the lowest in Canada’s history.

Why should I bother to vote?

Voting is a way to have your voice heard in Canada and allows you to take part in the democratic process. Ultimately, it gives you a say in how your country will be run and who you want to see leading it. No matter who you are voting for, get out there and vote!


Union Members Can Have An Impact This Election, According To Teamsters Canada President François Laporte.

Authorized by Teamters Local 362

This election campaign has been one of the longest in the Canadian history, and also extremely close when it comes to the polls. It seems as though each week there is a new leader in the race, depending on which poll you look at.

October 19 will be an exciting day in Canadian politics and every vote will count in this election – including the vote from members of the union.

Teamsters Canada president François Laporte said that he believes this year, the labour movement can make a real difference in this election. He said he has seen the involvement of various unions in the election and he thinks their numbers can have an impact.

Laporte explained that Teamsters Canada is not telling people which candidate or party they should be voting for, but are taking the approach of stressing that getting out and voting is what is important.

“I hope that people will get out and vote no matter what party they vote for. They should just be part of the process,” he said.
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He pointed out that union members in particular have been engaged in this election because of some  of the government action that has taken place over the last few years that have had negative effects on the middle class and the labour movement. These include issues such as employment insurance, pensions, corporate tax regulations and bills that have been passed that have hurt the labour movement.

“They realize that the only way they can change things is getting out and vote. That is very important,” said Laporte of union voters.

But it is important for all people to get out and vote, not just the labour movement, with Laporte stressing the importance of all Canadians participating in our electoral process.

He pointed out that every vote has the power to say what kind of a Canada citizens want to be a part of.

“It’s a matter of what kind of what kind of government we want and what kind of society we want to live in. Ultimately, we are a country who can enjoy democracy and we have to entertain that democracy,” he explained.

And just how do we get more people to participate? Laporte said that one of the best ways is to be well informed on the topics that concern all Canadians.

“They need to know the impact of a government decision on their personal life. We also need to make sure they understand the importance of keeping our democratic process and system,” he said. “They need to be aware of the importance that every time they go out and vote they make a decision that can have a big influence on their future.”

Currently Teamsters Canada is running an awareness campaign stressing that all members should get out and vote, with non-partisan information located on their website that can help members and their family understand how to vote this election.


Voter Turnout In Canada: What Is The Answer To Increasing It? (Authorized By Teamsters Local 362)

Authorized By Teamsters Local 362

Chances are you might have been one of the 7.5 million eligible voting Canadians who did not vote in the last election, and it is also likely it was because you were 'not interested in it', according to a new study by Elections Canada.

Other top reasons of why Canadians did not vote included in the responses were ‘too busy’, ‘didn’t like the candidates’ or ‘forgot’.

According to a recent CBC article political scientists say that having more voters is good for the voting process because people who are usually under-represented in the vote have ‘a better chance of being heard’ and this would force political parties to stop and take notice.

So what exactly can we do to get more than 61 per cent of the population voting in this year’s election?

One way to go about this would be to make not participating in the voting process illegal. The article pointed out that there are 12 countries that have made voting mandatory, but all have different levels of enforcement.

Another method pointed out by the article is information campaigns that have proven to be successful in the United States and Slovakia. Both campaigns featured celebrities from the entertainment industry encouraging people to vote.

Bulgaria even held a lottery during it’s elections in 2005 where people could win cellphones, cars and computer equipment.

Jamie Gillies, a professor at St. Thomas University, told the CBC that the longer election period this year could work either way when it comes to voter turn out.

He said interest could lag due to the length and over-saturation of attack ads, or it could increase for the portion of the population who don’t normally vote.

“Voter turnout could increase from the last election because it gives new voters, young voters and the demographics that are traditionally under-represented enough time to register and to figure out what is going on," Gillies said.

Whatever the reason, here is hoping that Canadians aren’t too busy or forgetful to vote this year.