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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 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.

Canada’s unions welcome employment gains, but urge continued focus on jobs

OTTAWA – Canada’s unions welcome the job gains reported in the September findings from Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force survey released today, but are warning that expanded government investment will remain crucial to a full economic recovery.

“Despite ongoing gains, the latest numbers continue to signal medium-term risks to Canada’s labour market,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “We are seeing increases in long-term unemployment, and young people, low-wage workers, women and racialized workers continue to struggle in this job market.”

While unemployment rates declined further in September, new rounds of layoffs are threatening the aviation, hospitality, accommodation and food service sectors. The federal government did pledge that it would create 1 million new jobs in last month’s Speech from the Throne.

“Now is not the time for austerity. The government must work quickly to ensure immediate action on job creation,” said Yussuff. “There needs to be focused investments on programs that will show immediate benefits for employment, like a national, universal public child care program.”

Canada’s unions are also calling on the government to take advantage of low interest rates to build a green economy through innovative infrastructure projects.

After the 2008 global economic downturn, Canada’s government failed to invest in the economy and it took years for workers and their families to bounce back. With the COVID-19 crisis, Canada’s unions are calling on all levels of government to resist calls for austerity and to instead expand investments in working people in order to ensure a robust recovery.

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

Canada’s unions mark World Day for Decent Work with a call for a robust economic recovery plan

COVID-19 has exposed flaws in social protections in Canada and around the world. The effects of this pandemic on health, employment, income, gender and racial equity are all the more catastrophic because of pre-existing gaps in our social safety net.

Before the pandemic, ever-increasing globalization meant many workers were employed in precarious, low-wage work with few, if any, benefits. Now millions of people across Canada and around the world have seen their jobs disappear. We need a worldwide recovery focused on secure employment and social protection.

This context serves as the backdrop for the annual commemoration of the World Day for Decent Work today, October 7.

“It’s clear that we need a recovery that is focused on shared prosperity and sustainability,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Better jobs are at the core of a robust recovery and that is true both nationally and internationally.”

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling for a new social contract to ensure a strong global economic recovery. Canada’s unions have similarly launched Forward Together: A Canadian Plan, a campaign calling for a similar focus on better jobs and reducing inequality.

“With millions of jobs lost across Canada, and hundreds of millions globally, we have to turn our focus to job creation. That includes focusing on secure employment, living wages, the universal right to collective bargaining and occupational health and safety,” said Yussuff. “The current economic model has failed working people. It’s time for us to rise to the challenge we’ve been presented with and to move forward, together.”

The CLC is marking the World Day for Decent Work with a webinar that aims to explore the issues at stake. It will be held on Wednesday, October 7 at 2 PM EDT. To register, click here.

Read ITUC’s statement on A New Social Contract for Recovery and Resilience here.