Federal budget makes good on key Unifor aerospace recommendations

After months of lobbying the federal government to support Canada’s aerospace industry, Unifor is relived to see movement on key policies and budget commitments of more than $2 billion to support the sector.

“Our message to the federal government all along has been that we must come out of this pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “That means investing heavily in our domestic aerospace industry and protecting our incredibly valuable advanced manufacturing jobs.”

Budget 2021 responds directly to a number of Unifor’s key recommendations presented in the union’s COVID-19 recovery plan for the aerospace industry, including $250 million over three years to directly support the sector and $1.75 billion in increased domestic research and development funding.

“I welcome these announcements by the federal government that we have been impatiently waiting for,” added Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec Director. “Some of the budget measures are already being implemented and certain projects have been cleared, all of which is a very good sign. But the devil is often in the details so we are eagerly awaiting more specific details on the various programs.”

The budget also commits to peripheral space agency funding and defence spending that will bring long-term benefits to the industry. The largest funding commitment of more than $250 million is dedicated to sustaining and modernizing North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) operations. This investment would lay the groundwork for NORAD’s future, including research and development of cutting-edge technologies. The federal government is also dedicating $9.9 million to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to plan for next-generation Earth observation satellites.

“The federal budget delivered on some of our key recommendations including strategic funding for research and development and a modest recovery package for the industry,” said Carmen Ledarney, Unifor’s Aerospace Director. “There’s still much work for our union to do to secure more for Unifor members to weather the pandemic’s worst effects.”

Canada’s aerospace industry continues to suffer from a downturn brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Most global air travel remains at a standstill with aerospace orders slowing down and sometimes even drying up at manufacturers across Canada and the globe.

“The real test of the federal budget will be how quickly funding finds its way into workplaces and begins to bring back laid off workers.” said Alexandre Lamarre, Unifor Aerospace Industry Council President. “Everyone in the sector has been affected from the largest facilities Quebec to those in Western Canada, Ontario and the Maritimes. My own workplace, CMC Electronics in Saint-Laurent, has had devastating layoffs. Our union’s primary focus is supporting those workers and protecting their jobs.”