News & Events

USW calls on Prime Minister to protect Canadian jobs in telecommunications

June 7, 2023 | Submissions and Letters

Below is the text of a June 5, 2023, letter from USW National Director Marty Warren and USW Local President Donna Hokiro to the Prime Minister.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

We write today, following our correspondence regarding the recent Rogers-Shaw merger, to bring to your attention some of the ways that it is already being used to justify the elimination of Canadian jobs, and to highlight the role your government could play in saving those jobs for Canadian workers.

The United Steelworkers union (USW) is proud to represent 850,000 workers across North America, 225,000 of whom work in nearly every economic sector in Canada, including the close to 7,000 members of our Local 1944 who work at Rogers/Shaw, TELUS and other telecommunications related companies.  

As we warned in our letter dated March 30, 2023, TELUS has already started to implement their own “efficiency program.” Beyond the Notice of Collective Dismissal they filed with Quebec’s Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity in March, alerting the Ministry to a significant number of job reductions planned in that province, TELUS has also offered 4,000 Voluntary Severance Packages (VSPs) to workers throughout other parts of Canada. While TELUS would argue the workers affected by these cuts are being incentivized by VSPs, the impact on the country cannot be ignored. These good-paying unionized Canadian jobs are being eliminated and the money paid by Canadian customers – notably including the federal government – is being used to fund this disastrous scheme.

TELUS is pointing to the need to be more competitive with Rogers/Shaw and an increased customer demand for self-serve options, but Rogers/Shaw is actually going in the opposite direction by onshoring the jobs they had once shipped to other countries. In part, this is because they know what we know; customers want knowledgeable, local employees to help them with their needs.

TELUS has essentially become a foreign telecom company. So, while your government often justifies millions and even billions in corporate subsidies to create jobs in Canada, what possible justification can there be for subsidizing a corporation that is cutting Canadian jobs, moving offshore and demonstrating a growing propensity for draining our economy? Similarly, in the context of increasing concern over foreign interference, it is counterintuitive to ignore the increased security threat that is raised by the immense quantity of sensitive Canadian information housed in overseas TELUS servers.

As with every other federally regulated employer, there is much you can do to direct and influence corporate decisions, but even more can be done in this case by reviewing and revoking current procurement contracts.

Canada should not be handing millions of Canadian dollars to TELUS through procurement contracts without any required benefit to our country or workers. We acknowledge that some of the public sector is exempted, including defence, security, health care, and some financial and legal services; however, all other government sourcing that exceeds specified value thresholds must be put to open procurement process and a basic standard of benefit to Canadians must be set and met, before contracts are granted.

In short, we are calling on your government to undertake and support efforts to publicly investigate (whether through a committee study or other means) TELUS’s latest schemes surrounding Canadian jobs, and to enact policies that will keep Canadians answering calls from the customers in their communities.

Should Telus fail to commit to Canadian jobs, we are calling on your government to suspend government contracts with the company. Canadians should not be paying to eliminate domestic jobs.

We are requesting a meeting with yourself and your relevant ministers as soon as possible to help ensure you are able to take steps to stand with Canadians and Canadian jobs.

Our office will follow up to schedule a meeting.

Thank you for your consideration on this urgent matter.


Marty Warren                                                                  Donna Hokiro
National Director                                                            President
United Steelworkers                                                      United Steelworkers Local 1944

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