The Government of Canada released its 2023 Federal Budget on March 28, 2023, outlining the government’s priorities for the near and long-term future. Importantly for union construction workers and SMART members, the 2023 budget makes enormous investments in a green energy system that will be largely built by union labor.

“Building on the supports for green technologies announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, including the Investment Tax Credits for Clean Technology and Hydrogen, the Budget included expansions to the previous credits along with an Investment Tax Credit for Clean Electricity and for Clean Technology Manufacturing,” Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) Executive Director Sean Strickland said in a statement following the release of the budget. “… Tying these incentives to Prevailing Wage that includes union compensation, including benefits and pension contributions, will raise the standard of living for all workers, maximize benefits for the entire economy and create a legacy of good paying, middle-class jobs throughout this transition.”

The definition of prevailing wage in the federal budget would be based “on union compensation, including benefits and pension contributions from the most recent, widely applicable multiemployer collective bargaining agreement, or corresponding project labour agreements, in the jurisdiction within which relevant labour is employed.” Additionally, the budget specifies that at least 10% of tradesperson hours worked must be performed by registered apprentices in the Red Seal trades – which include sheet metal and roofing – and the government intends to apply prevailing wage and registered apprentice requirements to the Investment Tax Credit for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage, and the Investment Tax Credit for Clean Electricity.

“The transition to net-zero is a once-in-a-lifetime economic shift, not seen since the industrial revolution, and it is absolutely vital that this work is performed by union members,” noted SMART Director of Canadian Affairs Chris Paswisty. “Whether retrofitting buildings across Canada to increase energy efficiency, performing indoor air quality work or installing green roofs, the incentives included in the 2023 Federal Budget will put our members’ labour in high demand.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the SMART Ontario Training Centre on Friday, September 2, where he celebrated Labour Day weekend with SMART members, local leadership and Executive Director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) Sean Strickland, among others. Along with welcoming the prime minister and discussing policy initiatives, like investments in apprenticeships and workforce development, SMART members presented Trudeau with a copper clock.