Canada’s unions call for strong recovery measures as job losses rise

May 7, 2021

The number of Canadians without work for over a year has tripled during the pandemic.

Canada’s unions are calling for swift government action to address rising unemployment evident in today’s latest job numbers.

April’s Labour Force Survey released by Statistics Canada this morning shows that Canada’s economic recovery continues to be uneven, with youth, women and low-wage workers still struggling with joblessness and underemployment.

Canada’s unions are calling on Ottawa to fulfill recent key promises in the federal budget, including significant investments in literacy, skills training and a $15 federal minimum wage, among many other important recovery measures. Quick passage will depend on the support of parliamentarians and on the Senate’s expediting of the Budget Implementation Bill.

“As we continue to battle the third wave of COVID-19, necessary lockdown measures are taking a significant toll on workers and their families,” said Hassan Yussuff, president of the CLC. “We welcome the recent literacy, skills development and training announcements in the 2021 federal budget, as these will help Canadian workers bounce back once the pandemic is over. But we urge the federal government to roll these programs out quickly with the support of all political parties, so that workers don’t face delays in getting back to work. The government should also immediately expand access to education and training for jobless Canadians receiving EI and recovery benefits.”

Following renewed progress in February and March, the latest survey shows that employment fell by 200,000 jobs in April, the biggest losses being in Ontario and British Columbia.

Long-term unemployment – the share of people out of work for half a year or longer – is also on the rise. Prolonged joblessness is now an alarming 170% higher than prior to the pandemic, with the bulk of the increase occurring in low-wage food service and retail occupations affected by COVID-19 public health measures. This trend is worrisome as the long-term unemployed are at higher risk of skills loss and fraying attachment to the job market.

“We encourage the government to target its new recovery hiring program to ensure that employers do not overlook workers at greater risk of being left out,” said Yussuff. “This includes the long-term unemployed, workers with disabilities, Canadians with lower levels of educational attainment, Indigenous workers, and workers of colour. Given the two-speed job-market rebound underway, we need a recovery plan that is inclusive and leaves no one behind.”

To learn more about what Canada’s unions are saying about how we move forward together, visit

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