Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Grimsby, Ontario, on supporting union workers and making life more affordable

Speech

July 6, 2022

Thank you very much.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land that we are gathered on is situated on the traditional territory of the Hatiwendaronk, the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

It is so wonderful to be here today, and to be here with my friends, Lisa Hepfner and Filomena Tassi. Thank you both for being here and thank you both for representing this community so effectively and energetically.

And I am really happy to be here at LiUNA Local 837 and to have had a chance to meet with union leaders, with union workers, with apprentices, because I really believe and understand that working people—that union members—are at the heart of the Canadian economy. We need you. You are building Canada and you absolutely deserve and will have our government’s support.

Our economy is recovering very strongly from the COVID recession.  Our real GDP is 2.2 percent bigger than it was when COVID hit.  We have the strongest jobs recovery in the G7 and our unemployment rate is the lowest it has ever been. 

That robust economic recovery is, in no small part, thanks to so much hard work by union workers, like the people we’ve met and who we see here today, and like LiUNA members from across Hamilton and Niagara.

And in the months and years ahead, our country is going to be counting on organized labour to continue playing an essential role in helping our economy grow from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

And it is in recognition of that reality that our government has introduced programs like the Labour Mobility Tax Deduction.

We know that skilled union workers are in high demand right across the country. The Labour Mobility Tax Credit will help cover the costs for skilled tradespeople of moving to where the jobs are, and put more money in the pockets of skilled workers.

Now, construction is booming across Canada. There are more cranes in the sky in Toronto right now than there are in any other city in North America, and the construction industry will only continue to grow as our government works with municipalities, provinces, not-for-profits, and the private sector to double the number of new homes we build over the next ten years.

Union workers must be at the forefront of that important effort.

So whether it’s the Labour Mobility Tax Deduction, doubling our investment in the Union Training and Innovation Program, or making sure that union workers are at the table as Canada navigates a changing economy and changing labour market, we are going to continue supporting workers because we know they are building Canada. Our economy — our society — depends on them and on their unions.

Something else that we’ve talked about today and that I know is really important to LiUNA and other unions across the country is immigration.

Canada’s willingness to welcome new Canadians is a huge economic competitive advantage for our country, and one of our country’s strengths today and for generations has been new Canadians coming here and getting good union jobs when they arrive.

Our government is investing heavily in bringing to Canada more of the skilled workers that our economy needs, and we know that they will play a critically important role in growing our economy in the years to come, and we look forward to continuing to work with LiUNA and other trade unions on doing just that.

Despite all of this—despite Canada’s strong economic recovery, and despite the fact that so many workers here and across Canada have good union jobs today—I know that today is a challenging time for many Canadian workers.

Inflation is a global phenomenon. It’s a lingering result of the COVID recession. It’s been exacerbated by Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine and by China’s COVID-zero policies.

But the fact is that Canadian families, Canadian workers are feeling the bite of that global inflation every time they buy groceries, every time they fill up their tank with gas.

And so, our government is here for Canadians just as we’ve been here for Canadians and Canadians have been here for each other as we got through the COVID pandemic and the COVID recession.

That’s what we’re doing now as we face this new challenge of elevated inflation — and we’re doing that by having a plan, by working together, and by supporting each other.

Our Affordability Plan includes:

  • An enhanced Canada Workers Benefit that will put up to $2,400 more into the pockets of low-income Canadian families starting this year;
  • We’re cutting child care fees by an average of 50 per cent across Canada by the end of this year;
  • Old Age Security for seniors 75 and over goes up by 10 per cent this month. That’s almost $800 more for seniors this year;
  • Dental care starting with children under 12, this year;
  • A $500 payment to help people who rent and are struggling with housing affordability this year;
  • And, of course, key supports, key parts of Canada’s social welfare net, are indexed to inflation. The Canada Child Benefit, the GST Credit, the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

For a working couple here in Grimsby, with an income of $45,000 and a child in daycare, this Affordability Plan taken together could mean roughly an additional $7,600 on top of existing benefits—an additional $7,600 this year, more than 16 per cent of their annual income.

A senior with a disability in Hamilton could benefit from over $2,500 more this year than she received last year.

Now, these measures were part of the fiscally responsible budget that we tabled in April. They are already accounted for in Canada’s AAA-rated fiscal framework.

But, for the Canadians who need this support the most, for the most vulnerable among us — seniors, low-wage workers, families with children, people facing housing affordability challenges — these are targeted measures  that represent new money that they did not receive last year, and that will make life more affordable at exactly the right time.

This is a difficult economic moment for countries around the world, and it is certainly a challenging time for Canada as well.

But, thanks in large part to trade unions and to union workers like the great people I’ve had a chance to talk to here today, there is no country better placed in the whole world than Canada to navigate the bumpy road ahead.

Thank you all very much.

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