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Canada’s unions welcome federal government commitments on climate change

OTTAWA – Coming on the heels of the government’s climate accountability legislation, today’s 2030 climate emissions reduction plan contains significant announcements for working people.

Expanded investments in energy efficiency, conservation and large-scale retrofitting of residential and commercial structures will create significant numbers of new jobs and require expanded investments in skills training and growing Canada’s construction trades.

Green and climate-resilient infrastructure investments will also mean an expanded skilled trades workforce.

“Labour will be looking to the federal government to make good on its commitment to supporting local job creation, skills training, apprenticeships and decent wages for workers, especially to those historically underrepresented in the skilled trades sector, including Indigenous workers, racialized workers and women,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

“Canada needs strong Just Transition measures to assist workers in resource communities and fossil fuel-dependent economies to access new job opportunities in clean energy, green transportation, efficient buildings and conservation if Canada hopes to meet and exceed the targets and prevent the worst outcomes of climate change.”

Canada’s unions welcome the government’s emphasis on domestic manufacturing, including developing Canadian supply chains for low-emission building materials, clean tech, and aerospace and automotive investments, and leveraging the power of public procurement. Additionally, unions are noting the crucial commitments made today towards bringing Indigenous communities into the process.

Despite today’s heavy emphasis on market signals and the private sector, public investment and planning will be vital to meeting Canada’s emissions-reduction targets.

“Today’s commitments towards public transit, including the domestic procurement of ZEV public transit and school buses, demonstrate progress,” added Yussuff.

As for increases on the price of carbon, unions are urging the government to ensure that the burden is fairly distributed, with low- and modest-income families protected.

Furthermore, the CLC welcomes the Government of Canada’s commitment to deliver on the country’s G20 commitment to phase-out all inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and its commitment to explore border carbon adjustments on imports.

To read more about the directed investments the CLC is calling for, visit canadianplan.ca.

To arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations
media@clcctc.ca
613-526-7426

Canada’s unions say slowing job recovery necessitates urgent government intervention

Canada’s job growth is showing signs of slowdown and Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to quickly lay out its plan to stem long-term unemployment.

The latest figures from this morning’s release of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey demonstrates a weakening jobs rebound. The survey showed a slowing recovery, with employment rising just 0.5 percent in October, a dramatic slowdown compared to summer months. The unemployment rate currently sits at 8.9 percent, and long-term unemployment rose sharply in September and October.

“Growing long-term joblessness means more workers risk disconnection from the job market, causing lasting harm to skills, incomes and opportunities,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The federal government assured Canadians it is committed to creating one million new jobs and that will be crucial. Time is running out for hundreds of thousands of workers who are seeing job prospects deteriorate in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic which shows no signs of slowing,”

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to provide details on its commitments when it tables the next fiscal update.

Nearly 50,000 people working in the already hard-hit accommodation and hospitality sector lost their jobs in October. The job recovery in various industries including construction, transportation and warehousing remains stalled.

The latest survey also shows that workers of colour struggle with a higher unemployment rate (11.7%) than Canadians who were not Indigenous or racialized.

Women of various backgrounds also continue to experience disproportionately lower rates of employment than men; racialized women are even more disadvantaged.

To read more about the direct investments the CLC is calling for, visit canadianplan.ca.

To arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations
media@clcctc.ca
613-526-7426

Canada’s workers engage MPs during first-ever Virtual Action Week

By Hassan Yussuff, as published in National Newswatch

On any given day of a normal year, Parliament Hill is buzzing with people lobbying elected representatives. According to the federal government’s lobbying commissioner, there were 18,728 monthly communications reports submitted in 2019 20.

Those communications reports were generated in large part by paid, registered lobbyists working with large corporations.

This year, there are far fewer meetings on the Hill but that doesn’t mean that elected representatives aren’t hearing from anyone. They are. And we want to make sure they’re hearing from workers, too. We know that pressing issues are mounting for many workers and communities across the country. In the past six months, people have seen their livelihoods disappear or they are staving off disaster, all while worrying about their health and the health of their families.

Workers want to see governments make decisions that will improve their lives and move Canada forward. They want to trust the government will make decisions based on the needs of everyday working people and of their communities. We only need to look South to see what can go wrong when governments let down their citizens.

In 2019, a study done by the OECD showed trust in government is falling worldwide. In 2019, only 38 per cent of Canadians said they had confidence in the government. The good news is that it has gone up since the pandemic made government more central to our lives than ever, according to a report from Samara Canada. Trust in government now stands at 59 per cent. This should not be taken for granted.

One of the best ways to maintain trust is to encourage citizen engagement in decision making.

This is why we are organizing the first-ever virtual lobbying effort, National Action Week. It’s an opportunity for workers from across the country to participate in our democracy, even in the midst of a pandemic. We are helping them reach out to their elected representatives to tell decision-makers what needs to happen in their communities.

Our hope is that our week of action will not only allow for conversations that will build trust in our democracy, but that these meetings will open the door for further conversations. Knowledge sharing is also essential for trust in democracy, meaning elected representatives should provide information and answer questions from their constituents – and constituents should know to ask questions.

After all, so much has changed and Members of Parliament need to hear from their constituents on what they need to focus on. Millions of people who were employed in March are now dependent on the government for support. As we continue to respond and as we move towards a recovery stage, the Minister of Finance has indicated the government is willing to make more and longer-term investments to provide economic stimulus, given historically low interest rates.

The most important thing right now is to move government investment into those sectors that will offer the most benefit to the most people across the country. The Prime Minister talks about building back better, and there are priorities that can’t be ignored if this government plans to improve the lives of those most affected by this pandemic.

The government made clear in September’s Speech from the Throne that it is listening to the concerns of workers and their families. The speech promised investments to create new jobs, accelerate the implementation of universal national pharmacare and focus on child care and long-term care. Workers across Canada are trusting that the government will include all these investments in the next federal budget and go even further, including raising the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour as promised in the last federal election.

Those who have been working on the front lines without proper protective equipment, those who have watched their loved ones suffer in for-profit long-term care homes, parents who have been stuck with no options for child care, women forced to choose between career and family after all these years of progress deserve support. These workers know where investments need to go and so should their representatives.

They are ready to bring their stories and experiences directly to policy-makers. It’s up to those making decisions to listen carefully and act accordingly in the best interests of the nation’s workers and their families.

Hassan Yussuff is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Follow him on Twitter @Hassan_Yussuff

Canada’s unions hosting virtual Action Week

People from across Canada will be lobbying MPs next week, in the first large-scale virtual lobbying event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic exposed deep disparities and vulnerabilities in our economy and society. It has also radically changed the lives of people across Canada.

Workers want the federal government to disaster-proof the economy by committing to investments in job creation, pharmacare and child care, among others.

CLC President Hassan Yussuff is available to comment on the Action Week priorities and to discuss the importance of hosting such a large-scale virtual lobbying event, even in the midst of the current crisis.

To arrange an interview, please contact:

CLC Media Relations
media@clcctc.ca
Office: 613-526-7426
Cell: 613-355-1962

Canada’s unions join Global Day of Action on Care

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of Canada’s care system. On October 29, Canada’s unions are joining together the International Trade Union Confederation and global unions for a Global Day of Action on Care.

Workers around the world want investment in public health and care services including mental health, child care, early childhood education, elderly care and other social care services that serve all our communities. In Canada, unions are also calling for a federal Care Economy Commission.

Decades of austerity-driven fiscal policies and a market-based approach to the delivery of care have created inequities and gaps.

“We have been sounding the alarm about the crisis in care services for years,” said CLC Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker. “The added pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these problems. Our economy is relying more than ever on unpaid labour, and on precarious, low-wage work done by women, a disproportionate number of whom are racialized.”

Canada needs care-focused solutions for the recovery. These solutions must meet the needs of our most vulnerable, create better jobs and disaster-proof our economy and our social safety net against future crises.

The proposed federal Care Economy Commission would study, design and implement a care strategy for Canada that would:

  • Create a broad and inclusive labour market strategy to achieve high-quality, equitable care jobs;
  • Examine paid and unpaid care work and develop a roadmap to meet the increasing demands for care; and
  • Reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work by improving access to public care services for children, the elderly and people living with disabilities.

“This pandemic has shone a light on what’s been broken for too long,” said Walker. “We need to rethink our approach to care. Strong public care systems – whether health care, child care, long term care or care services for persons with disabilities – are central to the well-being of individuals, families and communities.”

Canada’s unions are calling for a Canadian plan that’s rooted in our way of doing things – and that means taking care of one another. Public investments in services – not austerity – are a key part of a robust response and recovery that ensures our collective well-being.