Unifor Testimony to the Standing Committee on Finance (FINA)

June 3, 2024
Angelo DiCaro and Kaylie Tiessen

Good afternoon Chair and Members of the Committee

My name is Angelo DiCaro and I’m the Director of Research for Unifor, Canada’s largest labour union in the private sector representing 320,000 working people across the country.

I’ll be sharing my time with my colleague, and economist, Kaylie Tiessen who leads the union’s budgetary analysis work.

We want to thank the committee for the invitation to participate in this review of the budget implementation bill.

Unifor recognized the federal government for presenting what was, by many measures, a social progress budget in 2024, one that responded to persistent economic inequities, affordability pressures and stubbornly high interest rates. 

Over consecutive budgets, the government has established durable public goods programs, including first phase Pharmacare, as well as dentalcare, childcare and student nutrition programs, that will serve Canadians now and for generations to come. 

Nevertheless, the absence of promised Employment Insurance reform – a program that will serve as the core economic stabilizer for unemployed workers on the path to net zero – is a glaring hole in Budget 2024.

Our commentary today will focus on curated elements of Bill C-69, but by no means constitutes Unifor’s full or comprehensive assessment of the legislation. 

Unifor supports the proposed Income Tax Act amendments that increase maximum labour expenditures for newsroom employees from $55,000 to $85,000 as well as the proposed increase to the Canadian journalism labour tax credit rate from 25% to 35%.

That support extends to the $10-million exemption on the sale of a business to an employee ownership trust. 

These measures provide opportunity for local and national media outlets, keeping them viable and delivering the journalism Canadians need.  

In the clean energy and advanced manufacturing sectors, Unifor supports the proposed investment tax credits, including the Clean Technology Manufacturing credit, which already appears to have been instrumental in securing significant future investments in the auto sector. 

However, Unifor has stated publicly its desire to see these tax credits developed in a manner that ensures good quality, union jobs. 

This includes explicit requirements that companies receiving public funds commit to union neutrality covenants. Such a covenant would allow workers to exercise their constitutional right to join a union, and collectively bargain, free of employer intimidation, threats, harassment, and reprisal. 

**And although not explicitly tied to Bill C-69, we want to express concern over the absence of new capital funding toward the Strategic Innovation Fund in Budget 2024, a cornerstone investment vehicle that has served the industrial economy well for many years. Recapitalizing this Fund should be considered in Budget 2025. 

For Unifor members in the health sector, we support proposed amendments to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act that will establish a 5% growth guarantee to the Canada Health Transfer for eligible jurisdictions, marking a long-awaited increase to the transfer payments.

Unifor is, however, disappointed that such requirements do not include efforts to ward off privatization schemes or that is does not establish minimum standards for long-term care.

Finally, Bill C-69 proposes various important amendments to the Canada Labour Code. 

Proposed changes to the Code clarify that workers shall be presumed an employee if they are remunerated by an employer. 

Reassigning the burden of proof to employers when determining employment status is a longstanding demand of our union, and an important step to combat work misclassification in the federal sector. 

Further, the bill introduces a new Policy on Disconnecting requirement under the Code, which follows developments in other jurisdictions, like Ontario.

Unifor supports this amendment to the Code, but with three specific amendments that we have appended* to our submission. 

Amendment 1 proposes that Bill C-69 explicitly require the policy to detail how non-working hour communications will be limited and what opportunities exist for employees to disconnect.

Amendment 2 removes the proposed exemption for those working non-standard hours.

Amendment 3 requires these changes come into force one year after Bill C-69 is passed, and not over an indeterminate amount of time.

We thank you for the opportunity to present and look forward to answering any questions you may have. 


Canada Labour Code: Part 4, Division 22

Section 248 of the BIA introduces a Policy on Disconnecting requirement under the Canada Labour Code, which would mandate employers to post a policy outlining rules and expectations around work-related communication outside of scheduled hours and opportunities to disconnect, along with a rationale, exceptions (if any), and the date the policy comes into effect.

Amendment 1: 

177.‍2 (1) On or before the first anniversary of the day on which an employer becomes subject to this section, the employer must bring into effect a policy that includes the following elements:

  • (a) a general rule respecting the limitation of work-related communication outside of scheduled hours of work, including the employer’s expectations and any opportunity opportunities for employees to disconnect from means of communication;

Amendment 2:

Exempted employees

(2) The employer may exclude from the application of the policy any employees who are exempted from sections 169, 171 and 174 or who are referred to in subsection 167(2).

Amendment 3:

Coming into Force

Order in council

258 Sections 245 to 248 and 255 come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council one year after the day this Act receives royal assent.