Unifor, which represents more than 300,000 members is calling for “the federal government to prioritize improvements to income security, pandemic supports, industrial strategy, critical infrastructure, and public services in the union’s federal budget recommendations, with the goal to #BuildBackBetter from COVID-19.”
Although it’s unclear to me why a union is releasing federal budget recommendations the report released by Unifor is titled “Unifor’s Submission to the Federal Government’s 2021 Pre-Budget Consultation” and they say that it expands on their “Road Map to A Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery.”
In their statement, the union said that the “Government must put together a stimulus package big enough and bold enough to speed economic recovery and overhaul the public programs that failed us when COVID-19 hit. “
The new report
The new report recommends that the Canadian government implement “tax reform to reduce wealth and income inequality,” initiate the “Netflix tax” that would require “foreign-based digital companies to remit the GST/HST,” extend paid personal leave days to seven to cover sick days and or emergencies with an additional “14 paid personal leave days during public health emergencies.”
The budget submission also contains transportation and transit-related recommendations for the Canadian government including $7 billion in aid for Canada’s airlines, implementation of a national aviation recovery plan, an implementation of a national aerospace recovery plan, and accelerating Canadian aircraft procurement while “focusing on made in Canada solutions.”
Other notable recommendations are the call to develop a “National Public Transit Strategy,” to commit 180 million to purchase streetcars from Thunder Bay Alstom, to invest in national rail service and to “create a national trade-in program to “incentivize the switch to electric vehicles.” That’s right, Unifor wants the Government of Canada to introduce a trade-in program to incentivize you to drive an electric vehicle – I’m quite happy here in my old gas beater thanks, Mr. Dias.
Unifor’s submission to the Federal Government also contained recommendations for the media
Unifor’s submission to the Federal government said the updated Broadcast Act should be based on the following key principles:
- Recognize there is currently a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset the regulation and financial support of Canadian media for the 21st century.
- Ensure every consumer, government, media content provider and distribution platform pays their fair share.
- Save news outlets so that reliable journalism can hold the powerful to account.
- Safeguard Canadian cultural programming so it survives media globalization in the digital age and;
- Require foreign media companies to collect and remit the GST/HST, creating a more level field with Canadian companies that already collect and remit their fair share;
So to clarify, Unifor wants the Canadian government to ensure that every consumer, government, and media content provider and distribution platform “pay their fair share” but also want to “save the news outlets?” Make up your mind Unifor – which is it tax them to ensure they pay their fair share or save them to ensure that “reliable journalism can hold the powerful to account?” It sounds like your advocating for Trudeau’s media bailout to continue or increase but at the same time you’re demanding Trudeau tax content providers and distributions platforms more to ensure they pay their fair share – so take back some of what has been given out?
Discussing the building blocks of the submission
Unifor’s roadmap to “A Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery” has the following central ideas:
Income Security – The original roadmap called for a minimum wage of “at least $15 an hour and for the minimum wage to be tied to 60% of the median hourly wage for full-time workers,” stronger employment and labour legislation to “provide stability for workers to ensure everyone is covered,” permanent changes to the EI program to expands eligibility access and benefits and designing an income security system using the CERB as the new income floor that ensures no individual or family lives with an income under this benchmark. Sounds like UBI if you ask me – the same UBI mentioned in the Government of Canada funded report titled “Yesterdays Gone.”
Green Jobs – The roadmap says that “If Canada is to meet its climate change commitments, leaders must also put in place measures necessary to spark a virtuous cycle that benefits both the environment and workers.” It continues by saying that “No worker should experience economic collapse in the face of climate change either from climate events or the progression towards an environmentally sustainable world.”
The roadmap says that a targeted energy industry support program and “Federal Just Transition fund” should be established and that the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund should be expanded as part of a “National Public Transit Strategy”. Unifor also recommends that zero-emission electric vehicle (ZEV) manufacturing in Canada is supported through a National Auto Strategy and that Canada should build charging infrastructure.
No conflict of interest here, just a union that represents auto workers calling on the government to support a “National Auto Strategy” that would directly benefit them if put into action. Unifor also recommended the establishment of a funding mechanism for green retrofit projects, to develop a “green jobs training program” and to “reorient employment support systems and accreditations towards green jobs.”
Public Services – Unifor recommended an immediate Pan-Canadian focus on “a number of essential infrastructure projected to build the backbone of Canada’s economy for the next 50 years.” The recommendations included universal pharmacare, affordable and universal child care, high quality and accessible long-term care, guaranteed internet access for everyone, affordable housing, federally-funded skills and training programs, an end to drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities and repairing and enhancing existing infrastructure”.
Made in Canada – Unifor said that the “crisis has shown us that maintaining and promoting domestic industrial capacity is much a public good as anything else”. They say that the government must rebuild domestic industrial capacity by conducting a critical review of international trade and investment obligations, create comprehensive industrial strategies, implement measures to protect the supply chains for critical goods and services and “expand the Industrial Technological Benefits program to commit to Canadian content in all public procurement projects.“
Unifor says that “Government officials have the opportunity and the moral obligation to create a more equitable, fair, resilient and sustainable economy.”
Managing Corporate Support – Unifor says that workers must be seen as “partners to return numerous industries to financial health” and that “We deserve equal reward for our efforts.”
Unifor had this to say about corporate support from the government:
“Government must ensure any corporate support package is delivered through debt or equity instruments and that packages put limits on executive pay, dividends and share buybacks. This must spur environmentally sustainability, restrict wage reductions for non-executive workers and establish job protection guarantees to prevent layoffs due to restructuring and offshoring.”
The roadmap produced by Unifor also says that “any capital investment enabled by government support must include Canadian content” and that “workers must not be cut off from the benefits of the investments the government will make in individual firms or entire industries.”
Unifor President, Jerry Dias said “This pandemic has exposed massive cracks in the economic and social supports that Canadians depend upon,” this budget is an opportunity for the government to put together a bold stimulus package to speed economic recovery and overhaul the programs that failed us when COVID-19 hit.”
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