In anticipation of today’s fiscal update, Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to hold steady on investing in the nation’s workers.
The federal government moved quickly to respond to the economic fallout precipitated by COVID-19. Since March, the government has spent heavily on a variety of programs that ensure workers and businesses received support throughout this crisis.
“The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Supplement have provided urgent relief to many workers and businesses devastated by the pandemic,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Millions of people continue to be out of work and many businesses remain shuttered or are operating at diminished capacity.”
While this unexpected government spending has no doubt resulted in significant deficits, Canada’s unions maintain that the country requires ongoing investment to ensure a full recovery.
“The federal government has spent these past few months investing in people at a time of uncertainty and heightened fears about the future,” said Yussuff. “This pandemic continues to have devastating financial impacts on workers and families across the country. Millions of people still require help to get through these unprecedented times.”
The CLC is calling on the government to recognize the critical need for a responsive Employment Insurance program to protect low-wage workers who were hit the hardest by the crisis. This will necessitate significant reforms to ensure unemployed workers currently dependant on the CERB are able to transition smoothly to the EI program.
“Our focus must be on the people who still don’t have jobs to go back to,” said Yussuff. “The government recognized that the EI system was not good enough to help every worker affected by the pandemic. It still isn’t.”
The CLC has six recommendations for EI reform, including waiving qualifying hours to maximize access to the program, increasing the duration of EI and allowing EI claimants to enroll in education programs. For further details, click here.
Furthermore, the CLC urges the federal government to ensure our country’s robust public service remains intact in order to oversee and deliver the programs that Canadians rely on.