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.