4 promises in the federal budget that stand out for Windsor-Essex
Thursday's budget makes promises that will be uniquely felt in the Ontario region
The Liberal government has tabled its 2022 federal budget, with a focus on making housing more affordable and other highlights that'll set the pace for Canada's spending in the coming months.
Here are some of the promises that are of interest to people in Windsor-Essex in southwestern Ontario.
$1.7B to help people buy electric vehicles
The region has been buzzing with excitement about the recently announced multibillion-dollar investment that will bring an electric vehicle battery plant to Windsor.
This budget promises to help people to purchase the type of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) those batteries will power by extending the two financial incentives currently available into March 2025.
Ottawa also wants to put more vans, trucks and SUVs into that program, promising to release more details in the coming weeks.
It plans to launch another incentive program to help businesses buy ZEVs, which will be run by Transport Canada at a cost of $547.5 million over the next four years.
The federal government is also mandating that sales of ZEVs make up:
- 20 per cent of light-duty vehicle sales by 2026, 60 per cent in 2030, 100 per cent in 2035.
- 35 per cent of medium and heavy duty vehicles by 2030.
It also includes spending for charging stations so Canadians can keep their ZEV charged.
There's $500 million for large-scale urban and commercial charging infrastructure in 2022, and $400 million over four years for stations in suburban and remote communities.
That falls short of what the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association (CVMA) wanted to see.
"Supports for consumers and charging infrastructure are not keeping pace with the government's own timetable for change," said Brian Kingston, chief executive officer of CVMA.
The group also wanted to see incentives triple from $5,000 for to $15,000 to help make the vehicles affordable.
Semi-conductors and supply chains
The same sector experiencing what industry experts call a generational shift is weathering a semiconductor shortage that has shut down operations in Windsor.
This budget promises $45 million over four years "to strengthen Canada's semiconductor industry."
It builds off of the previously announced $150-million federal fund to develop and supply the microchips in Canada.
WATCH | Economist explains how global microchips shortage causes auto supply chain delays:
"This gives us an opportunity to really make sure that we are doubling down on those that have made the right plays and are successful," said Melissa Chee, vice-chair of Canada's semiconductor council.
Chee said having semiconductors signalled out as a specific line item in the budget is a key signal from the federal government.
"Canada's a place where we want to create a global semiconductor hub for manufacture and design... and that's going to attract investment globally," said Chee, who believes these chips will become a form of infrastructure because of how common they are across the tech, auto and health-care sectors.
She said the country has a path to being a global leader in the production of semiconductors because of its technological expertise.
"I also think we don't have a choice given world events that continue to occur," said Chee, referencing the pandemic and supply chain issues.
The semiconductor shortage has forced Stellantis to idle the Windsor Assembly Plant for large chunks of time over the last two years.
When the plant is not in operation, workers are temporarily laid off. There are about 4,700 people employed at the facility.
The company announced last year that 1,700 people would lose their jobs when they cut the second shift at the plant in 2022.
Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Close to 10,000 people come to Windsor-Essex as temporary foreign workers during the year, primarily to work at farms.
This budget announced a new Trusted Employer model for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) which will spend $29.3 million over three years to reduce red tape for employers "who meet the highest standards for working and living conditions."
It said more details will be announced later this year.
The budget also includes $14.6 million this year to improve employer inspections and "hold employers accountable for the treatment of workers."
WATCH | Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough speaks on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program:
"It's a drop in the bucket compared to what's required based on the workload our members already face," said Crystal Warner, national executive vice-president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, which represents the inspectors.
"I don't think this is going to do much to help make the jobs of our members any better, especially as these workers are already overworked and stretched too thin."
An auditor's general report released in December shredded the inspection program. Auditor General Karen Hogan told reporters the government "did not do a good job" and has "systemic problems throughout the entire regime."
An end to blind bidding wars?
The budget document begins with a focus on making housing more affordable for Canadians as people in Windsor-Essex watch the average price of a house skyrocket year to year.
This budget includes a promise of $5 million over two years to help the minister of housing and diversity and inclusion create a Home Buyers' Bill of Rights with the provinces and territories.
A key peg of that bill would be to end the blind bidding process, according to the budget, as well as "ensuring a legal right to a home inspection and ensuring transparency on the history of sales prices on title searches."