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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.

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