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Federal budget sets right path but needs to go further: Unifor

March 19, 2019 - 12:00 AM

OTTAWA — Unifor welcomes new job training initiatives in the federal budget but further action is needed to help the unemployed re-enter the workforce, allow minimum wage workers to progress to higher paying skilled jobs and aid in just transition for those displaced by environmental and technological change.

“Funds to help pay for training and additional EI income support will provide a real benefit to workers over the course of their working lives as they can continue to develop relevant skillsets,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “This is a good move that needs to be strengthened with further programs to improve workers’ skills in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

The union is encouraged by the creation of the new Canadian Drug Agency and national formulary for prescription medication but maintains its call for a national, universal, single-payer pharmacare program.

The budget also repeated measures to support Canadian news organizations, which were initially included in last year’s Fall Economic Statement, but lacks the urgency required to implement needed emergency aid to local news.

“We have lost 250 news media outlets and thousands of journalists in the last ten years. We’re going to keep losing them until we find sustainable funding for local news,” Dias said. “Action is needed now to set up the independent agency we need to make basic rules about who is a professional news journalist and who is not.”

Unifor is disappointed that the budget missed the opportunity to legalize single sport betting to level the playing field for Canadian gaming facilities and also failed to include measures to address the crisis in Alberta’s oil industry or to halt the migration of good-paying manufacturing jobs.

Positive steps were taken in the budget to provide access to high-speed internet to rural, remote and northern communities with the commitment of $1.7 billion to connect 100 per cent of Canadians by 2030.

Other beneficial measures include changes to make homeownership more affordable for first-time buyers, a reduction in student loan interest rates and new investment to First Nations and Inuit children and to provide increased access to clean drinking water.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at or 416-896-3303 (cell).