It’s no secret that unions are often misrepresented in North American media. Even the word itself — union — may still conjure negative connotations in some people’s mind. Yet, when one looks at the results of anti-union attitudes — a decline in middle class jobs and increases in severe income inequality — it’s hard not to question them. While Canada has seen a huge drop in labour incomes over the years, due to this problem, it fortunately looks poised for change.

A new path

According to the Canadian Labour Congress, union workers in Alberta alone earned an average of $4.88/hour more than non-union workers in 2014, totalling nearly $3.4 billion. Ontario’s members, on the other hand, brought in a staggering $19.2 billion. This money not only goes into the pockets of the hard-working labour force, but is inevitably pumped back into local businesses too. 

"Canadians need a government, which instead of attacking unions, works with them to ensure that every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.” 

These are facts that haven’t gone unnoticed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who highlighted the potential of unions in an interview this summer, prior to the election. “Canadians need to know that unions matter,” said Trudeau. “They need to know that unions are essential in the fight for fair wages. Canadians need a government, which instead of attacking unions, works with them to ensure that every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.” 

Looking ahead 

With the Baby Boom generation heading into retirement, the skilled trades sector will need to look towards young workers to fill its employment gap. Fortunately, this is becoming a far more attractive career move for young Canadians. Last year, workers under the age of 25 earned an extra 27 percent from jobs covered by a collective agreement, according to the CLC.

In addition to the comforting stats, young workers can also expect government support, as Trudeau explains, “We are open to any measures that will help young people make the decision to pursue a skilled trade as a career. There’s a skills shortage in this country, and it requires a fair, made-in-Canada solution to solve.”