OTTAWA, ON – The IATSE is pleased to see so many positive changes for Canadians in the new federal budget, particularly with regard to EI and the arts sector. The IATSE and other stakeholders have been advocating for changes with the Liberal government, and much-needed amendments have been made to Employment Insurance, with additional support announced for arts and culture. For EI, these changes included a reduction in qualifying hours for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour force, harmonizing their qualifying hours with other recipients in their region. The job search requirements implemented by the previous government in 2012 have been eliminated, which had seen workers forced to accept jobs with longer commutes and lower rates of pay. Further, the length of claims has been extended for those living in the 12 regions that are hardest hit, economically. “Due to the cyclical and freelance nature of our industry, these changes to EI are crucial to providing some sort of stability for workers in what can be an unstable industry,” said IATSE International Vice President John Lewis.
Arts and culture also scored a win on a number of fronts. In addition to the announcement that the Liberals would be committing $675 million over five years to the CBC, the government has committed $1.9 billion over five years to other aspects of the arts and culture sector, including $550 million to the Canada Council for the Arts, $22 million to Telefilm, and $114.9 million to the National Arts Centre, a signatory employer of IATSE members. To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, an additional $150 million has been pledged over the next two years to Regional Development Agencies to be used for cultural and recreation infrastructure.
A welcome announcement in the budget was $85.4 million over five years to develop a framework to support union-based apprenticeship training. This framework will support investment in equipment, will seek to incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training and will support innovative approaches with other training stakeholders, including employers.
International Vice President Lewis also noted that, “In bringing the qualifying age back to 65 for the Old Age Supplement and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Liberals have taken positive steps with the Canada Pension Plan and we look forward to working with this government during its proposed CPP enhancement consultations.” It would seem that, with the budget committed to addressing climate change, offering need change and support to indigenous peoples, increasing capacity at Status of Women Canada and providing additional support for our veterans, this budget offers something for virtually everyone.
Said International President Matthew D. Loeb, “The IATSE is pleased to be working with a government that is receptive and genuinely interested in our issues and the issues of all workers, and is looking forward to even greater collaboration in the coming years.”