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Trudeau touts more flexibility for working Canadians

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/8/2015 (1780 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau woke up early with Winnipeggers this morning for a rally to promote his plans to make work more flexible for Canadian families.

During his first stop in Winnipeg in this federal election campaign, Trudeau promised to bring in provisions to encourage employers in federally regulated industries to offer their employees flexible working conditions. These could include flexible start and finish times for the work day, greater family leave to attend to children or sick relatives, and the opportunity to work from home.

Trudeau said some of the provisions would be included in amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

"We work in new ways, work hours are shifting and where we work is also changing, and unfortunately the government has failed to adapt to these changes," he said at the rally held Wednesday morning. "That means flexible start and finish times and even the ability to work from home."

Trudeau acknowledged that Ottawa could not force any employer to be more flexible with employees. However, he said countries that have brought in similar provisions -- such as the United Kingdom -- found that employers granted more than 80 per cent of employee requests for flexible work arrangements.

However, not everyone agreed that this would lead to changes in the working conditions for Canada's 820,000 workers in federally regulated industries.

Molly McCracken, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' (CCPA) Manitoba office, described it as a pledge which equaled, "a whole lot of nothing."

"Employees are allowed to ask for flexibility, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they will get it," she said Wednesday morning when reached by phone. "For employees in federally regulated industries like transport and broadcasting, they are already unionized and employees can collectively bargain for the for this flexibility already."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks at the Holiday Inn South on Wednesday morning about the Liberal Party's plan for growing the middle class.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks at the Holiday Inn South on Wednesday morning about the Liberal Party's plan for growing the middle class.

Trudeau described this as another plank in a growing platform of policies designed to help Canada's middle class. Other policies include increasing taxes on the wealthy to cut middle class taxes, and enhanced government benefits for families with children.

McCracken did note that Trudeau’s pledge to take the lead federally could help influence provincial labour standard changes.

In regards to issues that pertain to women and families, McCracken said the CCPA is still waiting to hear what the Liberals will have to say about daycare and how they will increase access.

"I am curious what their childcare announcement will be, we know the top issues for families in childcare and there are 12,000 on the wait list here in Manitoba, so what will the Liberals do to improve access?" she said.

So far, the Liberals have come out with a plan to scrap income splitting for couples with children and instead offer a new, tax-free child benefit to replace the UCCB; they haven't yet released their daycare plan.

The Liberals staged their event at a hotel in the Winnipeg South Centre riding, a longtime Liberal seat that was lost to the Conservatives in the 2011 election. Manitoba Liberals believe they have a strong chance to regain the seat, with former Manitoba Business Council head Jim Carr, who introduced Trudeau at Tuesday's event, running against incumbent Tory MP Joyce Bateman. High school teacher Matt Henderson carries NDP colours in the riding.

Trudeau was flanked by a host other Liberal candidates including Dan Vandal (running in Saint Boniface-Saint Vital) and Robert-Falcon Ouellette (running in Winnipeg Centre).

Trudeau left Wednesday's rally and headed straight for the airport, where he was expected to fly to British Columbia.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

dan.lett@freepress.mb.ca

Dan Lett

Dan Lett
Columnist

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.

Read full biography

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Updated on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 1:14 PM CDT: Writethru.

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