Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed IBEW delegates by video on Monday afternoon, telling them that “Canada’s workers and labor unions have built this country.”
International President Lonnie R. Stephenson noted the IBEW enjoys a productive relationship with Trudeau, similar to the relationship it has in the United States with President Joe Biden.
Trudeau and his cabinet have regularly consulted with the IBEW in Canada on labor, construction and electrical issues since he was first elected in 2015.
“You turn big, ambitious infrastructure ideas into reality,’’ said Trudeau, who spoke in both English and French. “You maintain and create vast telecommunications networks that keep us connected with the world. And you modernize the cities and towns we call home.
“But as always, there is more to do.”
One bit of good news that looks to be coming is a federal tax deduction for Canada’s construction workers, which will allow them to deduct up to $4,000 CAN per year for travel expenses when filling jobs around the country.
The IBEW and other trades have pushed for the change for decades and it was included in this year’s federal budget. It provides relief for men and women working in the trades and corrects an inequity issue. Working professionals in Canada such as doctors, lawyers and accountants have long been able to deduct travel expenses.
“Like many of our peer countries, Canada is facing a significant labor shortage and it is threating the ambition we share,” Trudeau said. “That is why our government is working in lockstep with organizations like yours to strengthen our labor market and the people at the heart of it. A union-led advisory table will support the government offering priority investments to help workers navigate the changing labor market.”
The Liberal Party has the most seats in the House of Commons but not a majority. In many ways, that has been a blessing for Canadian labor. The New Democratic Party, which is even more pro-labor, reached an agreement with the Liberals in March to support it on many pro-working-family legislation through 2025.
“Prime Minister Trudeau understands just how critical the IBEW is to the future of Canada and we’re happy to hear from him today,” Stephenson said.