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Human Rights Day: equitable COVID-19 recovery requires investment in care

Canada’s unions are marking International Human Rights Day by calling for long-term investments in the care sector.

“Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” is the United Nations theme for this year’s International Human Rights Day, which is observed December 10.

“It is critical that Canada’s COVID-19 recovery efforts tackle the human rights failures that have been exposed by the pandemic. Significant government investments in the care sector will help level the playing field for those most affected by this virus,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau.

“We welcome the federal government’s recent commitments to invest in public care systems. Canada must focus on creating better jobs, improving working conditions, and addressing the deep disparities within our economy,” he added.

The pandemic has demonstrated how our communities rely on precarious, low-wage work and unpaid labour in critical care sectors. This includes child care, early childhood education, elderly care, mental health, and other social care services that serve the health and safety of our communities.

Many of the workers in these sectors are Black, Indigenous, women of colour and recent immigrants. While this work is deemed “essential”, it is undervalued and workers face poor working conditions, violence, harassment and numerous other risks to their health and safety. They also face a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and a lack of job security and access to benefits.

“This global crisis has laid bare what we’ve been saying for years: systemic discrimination and marginalization have put certain groups at a disadvantage. Entire communities are having a much harder time recovering due to unequal access to opportunities and services such as employment, health care and housing,” said Rousseau. “Long-term investment in care is crucial to disaster-proofing our economy, safeguarding our social safety net against future crises, and ensuring our collective well-being.”

Sign our petition urging the government to increase investments in our public care systems so we can move forward together and build a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

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.

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.