Liberals Unveil Budget: IBEW Brief

Ttrudeau2uesday, the newly elected Federal Government tabled their first Budget. The 269 page document wasn’t a surprise to many, as the Liberals stuck to many of their campaign promises including running a deficit, investing in infrastructure, changing the Employment Insurance program to better suit the needs of Canadian workers, investing and addressing climate change, and investing in union training centres.

Canadians expected a large investment in infrastructure and while there are funds earmarked for infrastructure investment, many of the funds promised during the campaign will be allocated in “Phase 2” which will take effect around the year 2020-21. The immediate spending over the next two years on “Phase 1” of infrastructure is still slated to be around $11.9 Billion.

In previous budgets, Canadians have seen governments over-estimate the price of oil.  In Budget 2016, the Finance Minister has conservatively based his figures on a barrel of oil being valued at $25 per barrel.  Anything over and above $25 per barrel should provide more tax revenues for the Federal government and will likely appear as a surplus in years to come should the price of oil continue to be above the $25 threshold set out in this budget.

Below we have highlighted some key budget items that will be of interest to IBEW members in various sectors and regions across the country.  For more information or to download the complete budget please see the link below;

2016 Budget Information and downloads




2016 Budget Highlights for the IBEW

Income TaxIBEWlogo2

  • A tax cut for Canada’s middle class, reducing personal income tax rate to 20.5 per cent from those who were previously in the 22 per cent category. Beginning January 1, 2016, Canadians with taxable income between $45,282 and $90,563 saw their income tax rate lowered.


Employment Insurance (EI)

  • To help reduce the period of time during which a claimant is without income, the budget proposes to make legislative changes to reduce the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week effective January 1, 2017.
  • The budget proposes to amend the rules to eliminate the higher EI eligibility requirements that restrict access for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour market. New entrants and re-entrants will face the same eligibility requirements as other claimants in the region where they live. This measure is proposed to take effect in July 2016.
  • In 2012, the Conservative government made changes to the EI program to specify the type of jobs that unemployed workers are expected to search for and accept. For some claimants, this has meant having to accept work at lower rates of pay and with longer commuting times. Today’s budget proposes to reverse those changes that strictly define the job search responsibilities of unemployed workers.
  • Budget 2016 proposes to extend the duration of EI regular benefits by 5 weeks, up to a maximum of 50 weeks of benefits, for all eligible claimants in the 12 EI economic regions that have experienced the sharpest and most severe increases in unemployment. Extended benefits will be available for one year starting in July 2016, with the measure being applied retroactively to all eligible claims as of January 4, 2015. This measure will ensure that EI claimants in these 12 regions have the financial support they need while they search for work.
  • Budget 2016 proposes to invest $73 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to improve access to EI Call Centres. This investment will increase the number of call centre agents, which will reduce waiting times and ensure that Canadian workers can access the information and support they need to receive their EI benefits as quickly as possible. Since the job cuts in this area by the Conservatives, many members and other Canadian workers have had a difficult time contacting anyone by phone at the EI call centres.


Skills Training

  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide an additional $125 million in 2016–17 for the Labour Market Development Agreements, and an additional $50 million in 2016–17 for the Canada Job Fund Agreements.
  • The Government will conduct broad-based consultations with provinces, territories and stakeholders in 2016–17 to identify ways to improve these agreements and guide future investments to strengthen labour market programming.


Strengthening Union-Based Apprenticeship Training

  • A skilled, mobile and certified skilled trades workforce is built upon high quality apprenticeship training systems. Apprentices work and learn in a variety of settings, including on-the-job, at colleges and polytechnics, and through union-based training centres. To strengthen the role of union-based training providers, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $85.4 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to develop a new framework to support union-based apprenticeship training. As well as improving the quality of training through investments in equipment, the framework will seek to incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training and support innovative approaches and partnerships with other stakeholders, including employers.
  • This announcement is something that the IBEW First District office in conjunction with NETCO as well as other Canadian Building Trades unions has spent considerable time lobbying MP’s on this subject and stressing the importance of having this implemented in their 2016 budget.


New Infrastructure Spending

  • In addition to funding flowing through the existing programs that support infrastructure, the Government will implement a short-term Phase 1 plan over the next two years to modernize and rehabilitate public transit, water and wastewater systems, provide affordable housing, and protect existing infrastructure from the effects of climate change.
  • Phase 2 will deliver on the remaining eight years of the Government’s long-term infrastructure plan. In this phase, the goals will be broader and more ambitious: a more modern, cleaner economy; a more inclusive society; and an economy better positioned to capitalize on the potential of global trade. Phase 2 will go hand in hand with the transition to a low-carbon economy
  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide $125 million over the next two years to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to enhance the Green Municipal Fund, including for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This FCM fund finances and funds innovative, municipal green infrastructure priorities, and has provided over $700 million to projects across the country since its inception.


Auto Sector

  • The extension of the Automotive Innovation Fund, which is currently scheduled to sunset at the end of 2017–18, will be extended through to the end of 2020–21 in order to raise the profile of Canada’s strong capabilities and better influence investment location decisions necessary for the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian automotive sector.


Investing In First Nations Community Infrastructure

  • To complement the social and green investments being proposed on reserve, Budget 2016 also proposes to provide an additional $255 million over two years starting in 2016–17 to the First Nations Infrastructure Fund to support investments in a wide range of complementary infrastructure that includes energy systems and physical infrastructure to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and fire protection services.


Investing In Clean Technology

  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide early strategic funding for clean technology projects. To support future investments, Budget 2016 proposes to provide over $1 billion over four years, starting in 2017–18, to support clean technology, including in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture sectors.
  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide $62.5 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to Natural Resources Canada to support the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels, including charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and natural gas and hydrogen refuelling stations.


Advancing Regional Electricity Cooperation

  • Significant investment in Canada’s electricity sector will be needed over the next 20 years to replace aging infrastructure and meet growing demand for electricity. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $2.5 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to Natural Resources Canada to facilitate regional dialogues and studies that identify the most promising electricity infrastructure projects with the potential to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions. This initiative will help shape future investments to maximize economic and environmental benefits.


Supporting Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy Development

  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide $128.8 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to Natural Resources Canada to deliver energy efficiency policies and programs, and maintain clean energy policy capacity. These resources will support improved energy efficiency standards and codes for products, buildings, industry and vehicles, and further the development of a legislative framework for offshore renewable energy projects.
  • Budget 2016 also proposes to provide $10.7 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to implement renewable energy projects in off-grid Indigenous and northern communities that rely on diesel and other fossil fuels to generate heat and power


Strengthening The Public Service

  • In Budget 2016 the Government committed to a strong, respectful and productive relationship with the Public Service of Canada.
  • The Government is committed to the development of public service leaders and in ensuring that ongoing workplace improvement is based on evidence through employee surveys


Bargaining In Good Faith With Federal Government Unions

  • A new round of collective bargaining between the Government and federal public service bargaining agents began in 2014, with all 59 federal public service collective agreements up for renewal.
  • The Government is committed to negotiating in good faith to reach agreements that are fair for public service employees and Canadians. The Government has already introduced new legislation to repeal the legislative provisions that provide it with the power to make unilateral changes to the disability and sick leave system.
  • It also reversed the previous Government’s decision to book savings in respect of changes to the public service disability and sick leave system in advance of the completion of negotiations. The Government will also consult on changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act introduced through the 2013 Budget Implementation Act.

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