A Look At The Federal Budget for 2018

It is that time of year once again when Canadians find out just where the government plans on spending money.

This budget was titled ‘Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class’ and included a number of issues the government plans to take on in 2018 including pharmacare, Indigenous issues and the opioid crisis.

The biggest theme for this budget was gender equality.

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"We believe that Canada's future success rests on making sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to work, and to earn a good living from that work," said Finance Minister Bill Morneau. "And that includes Canada's talented, ambitious and hard-working women."

Union leaders and members were pleased with the budget, especially the attention to universal pharmacare and pay-equity – which is long overdue.

“Women in Canada have waited far too long for fairness, and Canada’s unions look forward to working with the government to get this legislation right,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff. “That means ensuring, for example, that it establishes both a distinct Pay Equity Commission and a Hearings Tribunal – two essential components of a proactive pay equity regime.”

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Here are some of the major highlights from the budget:

    • New apprenticeship and training initiatives including incentive grants for women entering the Red Seal trades


    • A commitment to consult with employers, unions and other stakeholders to work to develop pay-equity legislation, which will be included in the budget bill


    • $1.2-billion over five years to create a new five-week "use-it-or-lose-it" incentive for parental leave for fathers


    • $447-million over five years to create a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program


    • Increase the take-home pay of low-income workers through a revamped tax credit


    • A pledge for a national pharmacare program although the budget does not lay out what this might cost


  •            $191-million over five years to help to cover the cost of NAFTA and WTO legal challenges



Supporting Canadians with Disabilities in the Workplace

It is no secret that there have been tough economic times for Canada, with the rise of precious and part time work and the dropping oil prices.

Now a recent survey has found that it is even harder for people with disabilities, who still have dismal employment conditions in our country.

A survey commissioned by CIBC and conducted by Angus Reid found that only half of respondents living with a disability have a full- or part-time job. They also found that 37 per cent of disabled respondents said they were unemployed and 11 per cent put themselves in the ‘miscellaneous category’.

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It is still a growing concern that in Canada, workplaces are making efforts to diversify but are still leaving disabled people out.

No matter whether the disability is mental or physical, it is clear there is still stigma attached.

According to experts many business think that hiring disabled employers will cost them extra time and money.

Mark Patterson is the executive director of Magnet – a project using technology to connect prospective employers with groups that have historically struggled to join the work force.

He pointed out in an interview with the Globe and Mail that if we don’t have enough persons with disabilities in the workforce, they are hidden.

“We’re really interested in making sure that … people with disabilities are in customer-facing roles and so on. That’s going to be an important step in helping change the stigma," he said.

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Adding to that stigma is institutionalized discrimination found in some labour laws, specifically Alberta’s.

The law states an employer is eligible to apply for a permit from the government nullifying minimum wage standards for disabled workers, paying them less than minimum wage.

According to an article in the Financial Post one of the most important things an employer can do is have an ‘open-door policy’ to discuss disabilities and job seekers and employees must feel supported and safe in sharing their disability.

If you are part of a union, reaching out to a shop steward or business agent is also an option those with disabilities can take. These representatives from the union are there to make sure your human rights are respected in the workplace, which includes not having to face discrimination due to a disability – visible or non-visible.

Having a diversified workforce is so important and it must include people with disabilities.

CEO Pay On The Rise Once Again

After the holiday season, most Canadians will return to their jobs and get back to the usual routine.

When most workers were just about to take their lunch break on Jan. 3, Canada’s highest paid elite group of CEOs will earn the same amount average working person’s income for all of 2017.

It’s a shocking stat, that shows the difference between the super wealthy and the average Canadian.

The report was released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and found that the 100 richest CEOs in Canada took in an average of $9.5 million in 2015. This number includes ‘salaries, bonuses, share grants and stock options, the report said.

The highest paid Canadian CEO in the report was J. Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, who collected $182.9 million.

The report also found that CEO compensation in Canada has increased by 178 per cent between 1998 and 2015.

One issue pointed out by the author of the report Hugh Mackenzie is that board of directors have the authority to ‘set compensation’. He suggested having this decision be more accountable to shareholders rather than a board of directors.

Political economist Robert Reich suggested having a tax penalty on CEOs who earned more than a ‘given ratio’ to average pay. He said that the increase in average workers pay would simulate the economy.

Having a fair and steady wage is so important to quality of life both inside and outside of the workplace. With the rise of precarious work, it is so important to know you have rights when it comes to your wage.

Having a union representing you means you have a guaranteed fair wage and someone to look out for you. Unions also set the bar for all workers, non-union and union, for fair wages.

With rising CEO pay in Canada, it becomes ever more important to make sure you are guaranteed a fair wage.

Trudeau Reiterates Commitment to Labour as MP's Prepare to Return to Parliament

Summer is almost over and that means a lot of things – vacations are ending, days are getting shorter and parliament will be back in session.

This past week Liberal MPs gathered together prepare for a year of coming through on their election promises. Part of that was to reiterate the message that ‘the last federal election marked a new era in labour relations with the federal government.’

"The labour movement has been essential to building a stronger economy, one that's centered on the principles of fairness and inclusion," said Trudeau. "You hold employers to account, and that includes my government. You fight for the interests of the middle class, and you demonstrate a sense of community in everything you do."

Some of the promises made by the liberals during the election when it comes to labour is more flexible parental benefits, helping veterans re-enter the workforce, protecting middle class growth, better employment insurance, skills training and infrastructure investment, youth employment strategies, and of course, repealing anti-union bills.

Meeting with the Canadian Labour Congress last November, Trudeau said he would ‘fulfill the Liberal promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.’

Bill C-377 is the amendment to the Income Tax Act, targets labour organizations with the intention of creating ‘more transparency’, while critics argued it is unconstitutional and violates the rights and privacy of all Canadians.

Bill C-525  would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

It also changes decertification of a union and would be changed to where a minority could initiate a decertification vote.

As we roll into September and our voted representatives start to make decisions that affect all Canadians, union members from across Canada will be keeping a close eye on how this session unfolds.

Need for Mental Health Supports Increase as Canadian Workforce Grows Younger

Canadians spent most of their waking hours at work: home is for family, solitude and sleep.

Because almost one fourth of the population is expected to experience mental health problems at some point in their lives, mental health support in the workplace is becoming more important than ever.

Canada is growing younger. In just 10 years, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials.

And with suicide rates the highest among this particular demographic, more mental health supports are not only expected, but are a necessity to a healthy work environment.

According to Statistics Canada, “employees who considered most days to be either quite a bit, or extremely stressful, are three times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode.”

Especially with Alberta’s current economic state, workplace stresses are at all-time highs. Almost equally as alarming is many employees’ lack of confidence speaking to employers about mental health; in Canada’s 2008 Mental Health Strategy, the Canadian Medical Association “found only 23 per cent of Canadians feel comfortable talking to their employer about a mental illness.”

If you suffer from a mental illness, you should have the right to feel safe at work - especially if you spend most of your time there.

Providing more mental health supports and talking openly about mental health as the Canadian workforce grows younger is crucial to not just making employees feel cared for at work, but it can also cut the staggering economic costs associated with mental health problems.

Teamsters 362 has campaigned to get more mental health support in the workplace with our Make It Mandatory initiative. It is something that is so important for all Canadians.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “about 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses.”

Awareness around mental health is growing, and as both employers and employees, it is our job to talk about it openly - no one should have to suffer at the hands of unmitigated psychological health in the workplace.

Labour Highlights From The 2016 Federal Budget

Last week the Liberal government announced their first budget with Justin Trudeau as their leader, and Canadians watched closely to see what election promises the party would deliver on.

The past few years have been tough on the labour movement when it comes to government decisions – several anti-union bills were drafted, Canadians face a job crisis and the issue of precarious work is a major concern.

"This budget is not an austerity budget," said François Laporte, the President of Teamsters Canada. "Today's announcements are in line with a policy of economic recovery, which our union supports entirely."

He added that massive job losses in the oil industry have hit some of the members hard, and there are thousands of working families going through ‘very tough times.’

This new budget offers an opportunity for Canadian workers and the labour movement to move forward with the new government, and we have listed some of the highlights.

1.     Employment Insurance

The government announced that it will be adding five weeks to the regular benefits workers receive, effective this July but retroactive to January 2015. The budget is changing the rules that govern employment insurance to help resource-dependent provinces. This is a ‘good start’ according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, where the economy has been hit hard.

2.     Skills Training and Infrastructure

Over the next five years, $85.4 million has been dedicated for the development of a new framework supporting union-based apprenticeship training. Also over the next five years $11.9 billion is assigned to be spent on new infrastructure in the country, creating jobs in Canada’s economy.

3.     Youth Employment

Youth employment is a major issues in our country and the government announced that $165.4 million has been outlined for the Youth Employment Strategy in addition to last month's announcement of the government's three-year $339 million investment in the Canada Summer Jobs program.


Alberta Film Industry Will Continue To Thrive With Government Tax Incentives

It is no secret that Alberta is a province that is known for oil and gas, but the film and television industry has had a great economic impact on our province.

This industry wouldn’t be able to thrive without the assistance of government tax incentives, something not lost on the many union members who are employed in the industry, not only in Alberta, but around North America.

Union members are a huge part of this industry, and with these incentives they are able to find more work on productions right in our province, benefiting not only them and their families, but also our economy.

When the NDP Government released their budget this year they included increases to the commitments that were already made to the television and film industry. They received ‘$11-million top up for a total of $36.8 million, part of $75.6 million pegged for arts and creative industries in the 2015 budget.’

The last few years have been incredible for our industry with the award winning film The Revenant and popular television shows Heartland, Hell On Wheels, Fargo and Young Drunk Punk all being filmed in Alberta.

There is also a $22 million dollar film centre being built in Calgary, which is expected to be operational be 2016.

The support of government tax incentives cannot be stressed enough in the film industry. The state of Georgia has had government tax incentives for film and television add a huge boost to their economy, and they are now among the top five destinations for film production in the United States.

Union members across the state are very thankful as demonstrated in a heartfelt ‘thank you’ they have posted on YouTube.

With the low Canadian dollar and the great success of Alberta productions, our industry is destined to grow and become known as one of the top destinations for film production.

Liberals Face Opposition To Repealing Anti-Union Bills

This year has started out on an upswing for labour unions when it comes to legislation, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing that the liberals have tabled legislation to repeal anti-union bills C-377 and C-525.

These bills that had a direct affect on labour made headlines across the country last year. Bill C-525 and Bill C – 377 not only caused critics to question what effects they would have on labour unions, but Canadian’s human rights in general.

Trudeau made a pledge to repeal them during his election campaign, and the latest action is seen as a step towards mending the government’s relationship with labour.

But the Liberal Government is facing opposition with Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer, saying that the bills are actually "pro-worker" and "pro-union.”

He added in an interview with Huffington Post that the Conservatives in the House would oppose the Liberals' new bill.

"If, in half a dozen or eight years from now, these bills are doing what the Liberals and what some union members are saying they will do, they can be reconsidered at that point. But to repeal legislation before it has even hardly gone into effect, I just think is not the right move,” he said in the interview.

Bill C-377 targets labour organizations with the intention of creating ‘more transparency’, requiring ‘unions, labour trusts and employee associations to disclose any transaction of more than $5,000, along with the names of the payer and payee, to the Canada Revenue Agency.’

Critics said that it was unconstitutional, not needed and costly and burdensome. The cost of processing and administration alone will have a tremendous financial impact on the government and taxpayers.

Teamsters review their financial statements at regularly scheduled meetings, making the process transparent and open.

The bill is also unconstitutional in that it would breach privacy laws concerning individual members, regarding information related to their health care and pension.

Bill C-525 would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

The Pay Gap Between CEOs And The Average Worker Continues To Grow

Last week the top earning CEOs in Canada were announced and the numbers were pretty shocking for the average working Canadian.

According to the annual report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s highest-paid CEOs will have earned the average workers salary of around $48,000 by lunch on a Monday.

They took home an average of $8.96 million, 184 times the pay of an average working Canadian, per year.

But according to a world-renowned industrial organizational psychologist Edwin Locke, the reason people are angry about these findings is motivated by only one thing – envy.

He explained in an interview with CBC news that the ratio is subjective and simply based on emotion, adding that a good CEO is ‘worth his weight in gold.’

The author the of the report Hugh Mackenzie pointed out in the same article that the large difference is due to a market that is ‘out of control’ and ‘dysfunctional.’

A report by Bloomberg found that the difference between what CEOs get paid as compared to the lowest employees in their company has increased by 1,000 per cent since 1950 – a staggering number.

Mackenzie described the growth as a 'visible manifestation of growing income inequality in Canada, adding that it is not sustainable.

"I just don't think it's sustainable. I think that sooner or later public concern about income inequality is going to start to matter politically and something will have to happen," he said in the interview.

 The current system of compensation is driven by boards of directors who are often a CEO themselves, according to Mackenzie.

 "There's an element of circularity to the system that I think just tends to keep salaries up regardless of what's happening to the performance of the company or the state of the economy," he said.

And the same type of compensation for the average worker has not been rising at the same rate.

According to the Toronto Star, compensation was up 22 per cent in 2014 since the survey first started in 2008, and the salary for the average Canadian rose by only 11 per cent.

Also troubling was how much the gender pay gap still exists in Canada – for average Canadian workers and CEOs, with the average CEO in the top 100 making 237 times the pay of an average woman.

The growing inequality between Canada’s ultra rich and the average working Canadian is rising, and Canadians are taking notice.

Top 5 Earning CEOs in Canada:  

1.  John Chen – BlackBerry Ltd.  

Base Salary: $341,452

Total Compensation: $89.7 million

2. Donald Walker – Magna International Inc.

Base Salary: $358,924

Total Compensation: $23.4 million

3. Gerald Schwartz – Onex Corp.

Base Salary: $1.4 million

Total Compensation: $21.1 million

4. Hunter Harrison – Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

Base Salary: $2.4 million

Total Compensation: $17.6 million

5. Mark Thierer – Catamaran Corp

Base Salary: $1.3 million

Total Compensation: $16.3 million

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.