EDMONTON, March 22, 2017 – Today, the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) welcomed the federal government’s budget commitments in the area of skills training but also cautioned against consistent deficit spending and increased payroll taxes.
The government’s support for skills training is focused on helping workers retrain and upgrade their skills in order to adapt to new economic realities. To this end, Budget 2017 provides $225 million over four years and a further $75 million per year thereafter to establish a new organization to support skills development in Canada. Further, the government is also reforming labour market transfer agreements with the jurisdictions, with funding of $1.8 billion over six years to expand Labour Market Development Agreements. In order to pay for this, the government is also increasing employment insurance (EI) premiums.
“Our members welcome the government’s emphasis on training the workforce of tomorrow. We are pleased to see the commitment to under-represented groups in today’s budget and hope that this commitment also includes the construction industry where women and Indigenous populations have traditionally been under-represented and under-employed,” said Paul de Jong, President of PCA. “It is also our hope that the new funding announced for skills training today will be applied broadly so that all in our industry can benefit.”
However, PCA also expressed concern over the plan to increase EI premiums to pay for the new skills training programming: “Our members won’t be happy that during an already difficult time they now have to pay higher payroll taxes,” stated de Jong.
Budget 2017 provides no new infrastructure funding. However, PCA noted the further details on The Canada Infrastructure Bank, which will be responsible for investing $35 billion over 11 years, focusing on large, transformative projects such as regional transit plans, transportation networks, and electricity grid interconnections. The government’s goal is to have an operational Canada Infrastructure Bank in late 2017 to ensure funds can begin to be invested.
“PCA welcomes the details that were provided today on The Canada Infrastructure Bank,” said de Jong. “We view the acceleration of infrastructure spending as critical to growing our economy.”
Budget 2017-18 is projecting a budget deficit of $28.5 billion and no return to budgetary balance in the near future.
PCA member companies and their families have to balance their revenue with their spending. We urge the government to do the same,” concluded de Jong.
PCA’s goal is to ensure that Canada has a fair and open construction industry, cooperative labour relations, and a robust, inclusive and highly capable workforce. PCA believes in open competition in which no sector is given artificial and unfair advantage over another on the basis of union affiliation or lack thereof.
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