SIU of Canada commends government for addressing country’s skilled labour gap

March 20, 2019

Federal budget’s renewed focus on skills training and development will benefit Canada’s marine shipping sector


OTTAWA, ON March 20, 2019– The Seafarers International Union (SIU) of Canada applauds the government for taking strong measures in its latest federal budget to address the country’s growing demand for skilled workers.


The SIU is pleased to see support through the Canada Training Benefit which will help with the cost of training for individuals. We understand the importance of allowing workers to take the time needed to invest in themselves and their skills, and are pleased to see this worthwhile investment in today’s budget. Further, we commend the government for assuring Canadians that their jobs remain secure as workers take time off to receive training.


We also welcome the investments in The Apprenticeship Strategy, which will directly help those employed in the skilled trades. Furthermore, the pre-apprenticeship program will help build awareness of careers in the trades, which is of utmost importance to our industry. Our work on the Be A Seafarer campaign seeks to raise awareness of seafaring to young people and skilled workers considering a career in the maritime industry. We are very pleased to see the government recognize the need for more skilled workers in Canada.


The government’s new investments in innovation and skills development could not come sooner for Canada’s thriving marine shipping industry.


Today, the SIU has an immediate need to hire hundreds of skilled workers to address an ongoing labour shortage, and with over 20 per cent of current SIU membership set to retire in the next five years, the sector’s demand for skilled workers is only increasing.


“With the increase in domestic and global trade, we need more skilled Canadian workers on Canadian waters,” says James Given, President, SIU of Canada. “The SIU commends the government for making skills training a signature piece of this year’s budget. As a country, we have an obligation to better prepare and train Canadians, today and in the future, so they can take advantage of opportunities in growing industries like ours, and secure a more prosperous future for themselves.”


Domestic and global trade is growing, and marine shipping is a major facilitator of trade, accounting for approximately 1.8% of the Canadian economy, or about $30 billion. The marine shipping industry is also a direct and indirect source of approximately 99,000 jobs across the country, helping thousands of proud, hard-working men and women provide great lives for their families.


In 2018, thanks to SIU advocacy efforts, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP) maritime policy was changed to ensure Canadian workers always have first access to jobs. This essentially means there are now more lucrative seafaring positions available for skilled Canadian workers than ever.


In June, the SIU partnered with the Seafarers’ Training Institute to launch a national hiring initiative aimed at recruiting, training and retaining young people. While the initiative proved successful, the SIU believes the federal budget’s emphasis on skills development and training will be of great benefit to future recruitment efforts.



Domestic and global trade is growing, and marine shipping is a major facilitator of trade, accounting for approximately 1.8% of the Canadian economy, or about $30 billion.

About the SIU of Canada: The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America serving unlicensed sailors since 1938. The most important sailors’ union in Canada, the SIU represents the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, on the East and West Coasts.


Danielle Smith, FleishmanHillard HighRoad