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End-of-year unemployment data shows need for continued support for workers

“Even as the vaccine roll-out begins, we can see that the tough times aren’t behind us yet,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff. “The end-of-year unemployment data remind us that strong government support continues to be a vital lifeline for workers and their families who are struggling through the economic shock of the pandemic.”

The December Labour Force Survey, released today by Statistics Canada, shows higher than expected job losses last month. Unemployment rose to 8.6 percent, with employment down 63,000 and job-market participation dropping for the second month in a row.

“These are unprecedented times. The important public health precautions implemented over the past year have had an exceptionally hard impact on workers,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Workers in Canada need to know that when the virus is contained, they can count on decent jobs, with good wages, and adequate benefits to help their families bounce back.”

Facing another round of shutdowns as COVID numbers rise, many workers across the country worried that their financial forecast is getting bleaker. Recent reports have revealed stories of personal support workers checking into homeless shelters and other workers failing to claim the federal government’s sick leave program out of fear of reprisal.

“Investing in Canada’s workers is a direct investment in our economy and it is vital to an economic recovery. The federal government must remain focused on income support and assistance to ensure that workers’ jobs are protected,” said Yussuff. “As we invest in a healthy recovery, Canada must also prepare for the long-term future by disaster-proofing our economy so that we are ready when the next crisis hits.”

Latest job numbers signal bleak winter ahead

OTTAWA – Canada’s unions are raising the alarm that many workers are facing a bleak winter of unemployment and under-employment with no immediate relief in sight.

November’s labour force survey released today by Statistics Canada showed high rates of long-term unemployment. A total of 1.5 million people are currently unemployed and looking for work; 400,000 have been without work for six months or longer. Another 317,000 workers dropped out of the labour market altogether last month.

“The scale of the jobs crisis has been without parallel in recent memory,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The second wave of this pandemic is making life very difficult for many workers, many of whom have given up trying to find work for the time being. Beyond the immediate emergency supports that are helping to put food on the table for these families, government stimulus will be key to putting people back to work.”

The survey also showed that women continue to bear the brunt of child care responsibilities, with 55 per cent more mothers with young children working less than half their usual hours compared to this time last year.

The federal government has made commitments towards the creation of one million jobs and investments in skills and training.

“We’re heartened that the government has promised to make investments in long-term care and child care, two areas that employ significant numbers of women, including many who are racialized,” said Yussuff. “However, time is of the essence and workers need to see concrete actions.”

A recent study showed that investment in early learning and child care would create 200,000 new jobs in child care provision and another 80,000 indirect jobs, including 8,000 construction jobs. It would also increase women’s participation by as many as 725,000 additional workers.

Austerity policies implemented soon after the 2008-09 global economic downturn led to sluggish growth, prolonged unemployment and growing precarity in Canada. In our current crisis, continued income support and expanded public investments will be crucial to help people weather the pandemic’s second wave and to move the nation towards a strong recovery.

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