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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.”

Canada’s unions call for pathway to permanent residency for all migrant workers

Canada’s unions are marking International Migrants Day by calling on the federal government to offer a pathway to permanent residency to all migrant workers who wish to apply.

The federal government recently announced that it will be accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants working in the healthcare sector. This important announcement recognizes the crucial contributions refugee workers have made to the safety and wellbeing of communities across the country, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Canada’s unions are concerned that the eligibility criteria are too narrow.

“While we applaud the government’s recent announcement, the option to apply for permanent residency should be available to migrant workers in all sectors,” said Hassan Yussuff, CLC President. “The pandemic has shown that migrant workers provide essential services. All migrant workers deserve the opportunity to stay in Canada and to have their human and labour rights protected, just as any other worker.”

This week, the federal government also announced that it will allow seasonal migrant workers from Trinidad and Tobago – stuck in Canada due to COVID-19 travel restrictions – to apply for open work permits. This grants them job mobility, and gives them access to healthcare and employment insurance while Canadian officials negotiate their return home.

Although this is a step in the right direction, it highlights the vulnerability of migrant workers.

Migrant workers face insecurity, discrimination and often work in dangerous conditions. Their precarious position leaves them dependant on employers and makes them especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The pandemic has only made this worse.

During the initial quarantine period earlier this year, migrant workers reported wage issues, food insecurity and a lack of required public health measures in their accommodations. By the month of November, nearly 2,000 migrant workers on farms across Canada had fallen ill with COVID-19, and three had died.

“The federal government must also ensure that migrant workers have comprehensive worker protections to prevent exploitation, abuse, mistreatment and discriminatory workplace policies,” said Yussuff. “These workers have been doing critical work throughout the pandemic to keep our families and communities safe and cared for, while they faced instability, insecurity and unfair working and living conditions. It’s past time for their efforts to be recognized and valued.”

Canada’s unions believe that all workers in Canada should be treated fairly. Migrant workers deserve a fair future just as all workers do. Our country’s recovery depends on the expansion of equal rights and protections for all workers so we can ensure a better, more inclusive, and just economic recovery.

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

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

Darryl Flasch – Winner of the 2020 Carol McGregor CLC Disability Rights Award

Every year on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Labour Congress will recognize a union member for their disability rights activism.

This award is named in honour of Carol McGregor, an outstanding disability rights activist, member of BCGEU/NUPGE and the CLC Disability Rights Working Group―and who was much loved by all those who worked with her. Carol passed away in 2006.

In 2020, the award recognized the lifetime achievements of Darryl Flasch, a member of the British Columbia Government and Services Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). As an active trade unionist since 1990, Darryl has dedicated 30 years of his life to removing barriers and ensuring the inclusion of workers with disabilities in his workplace and in the labour movement. He also worked tirelessly to advocate for more tools and resources within his union, including accessibility audits, in order to build a labour movement and communities that are inclusive of all abilities.

Fiscal update’s emphasis on investments will spare Canadians further economic hardship and spur recovery

Canada’s unions say the federal government’s fiscal update will help the nation’s workers weather current health and economic hardships through the pandemic.

Today’s update extends critical income support and economic measures to help Canadians and businesses. While today’s commitments on key priorities remain modest and reflect past promises, the government has signalled it will make further investments as the recovery begins to take shape.

“Canada’s workers and their families are staring down a harsh, frightening winter of economic uncertainty in the midst of a health crisis that shows no sign of letting up,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

“They have received assurances that their government will help them make ends meet and safeguard their health and well-being. However, it’s clear that many essential investments will be required around critical priorities like child care, pharmacare and towards key industries to ensure a rapid recovery.”

The federal government made numerous commitments towards workers and their families, including:

  • The promise of improved working conditions and measures to support retention and recruitment of care economy workers and early childhood educators;
  • Creation of new national standards for long-term care and a $1 billion fund to improve the quality of care;
  • Green economy investments, including support for home energy efficiency retrofits and the goal of planting 2 billion trees;
  • Limited sector-specific support for the hospitality and aviation sectors;
  • Measures to tax the multinational digital giants and improve tax compliance;
  • The creation of a Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care; and,
  • The announcement of a task force on modernizing the Employment Equity Act.

Canada’s unions join other experts and stakeholders in emphasizing that the priority must remain on returning Canada to full employment rather than on reducing debt.

“Harsh cuts in the past have put Canadians more at risk today. We need only to look at the state of long-term care, the erosion of public health capacity and an insufficient Employment Insurance program,” said Yussuff. “This is why we have been calling on governments to disaster-proof the country to help us withstand future crises while we recover from this one.”

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

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 launch nation’s first-ever virtual lobby week

OTTAWA – Hundreds of workers from communities across Canada are meeting virtually with their MPs this week, part of the country’s first-ever national Action Week, organized by Canada’s unions.

Participants will be calling on elected representatives to push for federal investments towards job creation, health care and child care, among other necessary programs. Over 200 meetings are scheduled.

“The pandemic continues to disrupt our lives in a myriad of ways. Our governments have an integral role in making sure that workers and their families get through this ongoing crisis,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “Workers know they have to advocate for solutions that centre their experiences and which address the systemic gaps this pandemic has revealed. Right now, the only way to do that is virtually and workers are stepping up in a significant way to do what it takes to be heard,” said Yussuff.

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to disaster-proof the economy.  This includes committing to shovel-ready projects that create stable, well-paying jobs, as well as investing in job training for workers, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including racialized workers, women, and people with disabilities. Unions are urging the government to start by implementing its promised $15 minimum wage in federally regulated workplaces.

The pandemic has also demonstrated the need for a more resilient and comprehensive public health care system. Canada’s unions have long called for the implementation of single-payer, universal pharmacare, particularly urgent now considering that millions of people in Canada have lost access to drug benefits and are struggling to pay for their prescription medications.

“There is no going back to business as usual,” said Yussuff. “On the contrary, we’ve managed to weather this pandemic better than some countries by working together and taking care of one another. MPs will be hearing directly from their own constituents this week on how they can continue to support working people and their families going forward.”

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

Canada’s unions welcome increased federal immigration targets

Ottawa – Canada’s unions are applauding the federal government’s announcement today that it plans to welcome more than 1.2 million immigrants to Canada over the next three years.

The proposed plan will bring skilled workers, family members and refugees to Canada between 2021 and 2023.

“For many years, Canada’s unions have called on the government to increase immigration targets. We welcome today’s announcement as an important part of our country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “A robust immigration plan will help increase our workforce and productivity. This in turn strengthens the social programs and services that support our communities.”

Lockdowns and other measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a significant shortfall in Canada’s immigration numbers this year. Only 128,425 people were settled in 2020, far under the 341,000 that was previously targeted.

Furthermore, there are worker shortages in various sectors across Canada, which necessitate a ramping up of the country’s immigration levels. Despite current high unemployment levels in Canada due to the pandemic, the need for immigration persists including to support essential services in health care, long-term care facilities, farms and in meat processing plants, among others, as well as in high-skill fields in STEM.

Canada’s unions also welcome the federal government’s signal today that it will offer a pathway to permanent residency to immigrants and migrant workers already in Canada.

These workers must also have comprehensive worker protections in order to prevent abuse, mistreatment and discriminatory workplace policies.

“Workers deserve a chance to continue their lives here, regardless of the industry they work in. The federal government has provided a temporary measure for asylum claimants working in healthcare to apply for permanent residency, and this should apply to workers in all sectors,” said Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary-Treasurer at the Canadian Labour Congress.

“Our country and our economy are stronger with a rich and diverse workforce.”

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

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.