CAW Urges Help for Ailing Manufacturing Sector in Tuesday's Budget

    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - Members of the CAW are looking for the federal
government to move decisively to help Canada's ailing manufacturing sector
with its 2008 budget tomorrow.
    "The manufacturing industry has lost over 350,000 well-paying jobs, while
Ottawa sat on its hands," said Buzz Hargrove, CAW President. "With the North
American economy getting weaker by the day, this is the time for Ottawa to
step in with meaningful assistance."
    The CAW wants Ottawa to use some of its surplus funds to support
investments in new technology that help Canadian manufacturers cope with the
impact of an overvalued currency.
    "Across-the-board corporate tax cuts have made absolutely no difference
to weak investment performance in Canadian manufacturing," said Hargrove,
citing CAW data showing that business investment in machinery and equipment
has declined throughout this decade despite tax cuts and record corporate
    Instead of tax cuts, Hargrove repeated the union's call for targeted
measures to directly boost investment in key manufacturing industries. In
particular, the union wants:

    -   Tax credits that are tied directly to new investment spending (like
        an investment tax credit);
    -   Targeted assistance for key high-value industries, like the auto
        industry, aerospace, and other high-technology sectors. Specifically,
        the union wants Ottawa to support "keystone" investment projects like
        the proposed new Ford engine plant in Windsor;
    -   Measures to assist the auto industry to adapt to new environmental
        rules, with support for investments in fuel-efficient products at
        Canadian plants.

    The CAW President pointed out that large numbers of voters in swing
Ontario ridings will be watching carefully to see if the budget addresses the
crisis in manufacturing.
    Hargrove expressed his concern on a number of other issues that he wants
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to address in tomorrow's budget. The overall
budget needs to respond to the potential North American economic downturn, by
quickly boosting spending power - with new government spending on key
investment and infrastructure projects, and with measures to protect the
incomes of vulnerable Canadians.
    "There is no better way for Ottawa to soften the blow of recession than
by expanding access to Employment Insurance benefits for Canada's most
vulnerable workers," Hargrove concluded. He pointed out that less than half of
officially unemployed Canadians qualify for any regular EI benefits at all, a
situation he called "scandalous."
    The federal budget must also address issues of equality - specifically
that of women and First Nations people. For the last two budgets, the Harper
Conservative government has reneged on childcare funding and the universal
childcare program that was close at hand before the Conservative government
came into power. The CAW is calling on the federal government to restore the
$3.7 billion it removed from the early learning and childcare agreements with
the provinces and restore and top up funding to the Status of Women.
Currently, 12 of the 16 regional Status of Women offices are closed due to
lack of funds.
    The CAW is calling on the federal government to recognize its obligations
to First Nations people and live up to the Kelowna Accord, the $5 billion fund
to address poverty for First Nations that it withdrew shortly after taking

For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications Angelo DiCaro, (cell) (416)
606-6311 or Shannon Devine (cell) (416) 302-1699

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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