OTTAWA—A pair of manufacturing associations praised the federal government’s 2014 budget as good for the industry nationwide, while Canada’s largest private sector union said it came up short on jobs.
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) both rallied behind the Conservative government’s budget handed down this week, pointing to a number of measures as positive steps for an industry that has face increasing pressures in recent years.
“Behind the headline news that the federal government plans to run a fiscal surplus in 2015, the budget contains a number of measures that will assist manufacturers and exporters in finding and training skilled workers, lower regulatory compliance costs and help win major new automotive investments in Canada,” CME president and CEO Jayson Myers said in a statement released following the budget.
The budget included a commitment of an additional $500-million over two years to Canada’s Automotive Innovation Fund (AIF), which CVMA president Mark Nantais said will help spur further private investment in the sector.
“This announcement demonstrates the government’s continued recognition of the importance of the auto sector to Canada’s economy and the need to remain globally competitive,” Nantais said.
CME’s Myers said the auto funding should help should help the sector win new deals that will benefit not only Ontario, long recognized as Canada’s auto hub, but throughout other provinces as well.
“Opportunities to win major assembly operations do not come around every day; now we know that the government has the funds that will help us compete with the rest of the world to secure new investments,” he said.
Meanwhile, Unifor, the union born last year of a merger between the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) unions, said the Conservatives made “some good choices, but far too many bad ones” in the budget.
“The best way to address pocketbook issues is through quality employment—and our government has once again missed the opportunity,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said.
“With more than 390,000 unemployed youth, a small loan fund and a handful of apprenticeships are not going to do the job.”
Dias also voiced his concern over the controversial Canada Jobs Grant and plans to divert funds from provincial Labour Market Agreements.
The union head was, however, encouraged by the additional automotive funding.
“Around the world, governments are working with industry and labour to support important economic sectors like auto,” Dias said. “In order to compete in a global market, it’s crucial that our government also plays a role.”