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Canada's unions advocate for workers, communities in COVID19 recovery

June 11, 2020

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) continues to advocate for national COVID-19 recovery programs that will help workers and communities, including a national childcare program, ending for-profit long-term care, and federal support for local governments. The CLC released Labour’s Vision for Economic Recovery [PDF] on May 13.

In contrast to past recessions that disproportionately affected male workers, the economic shock of COVID-19 is hitting women hardest. With women bearing the brunt of 62% of all job losses, economist Armine Yalnizyan has labeled this a “she-cession.” In addition to job losses, Statistics Canada data show that women who have kept their jobs are unable to work as many hours as their male counterparts. Combined with closed schools and a fragmented childcare system with operators only beginning to figure out if and how to reopen, women are disproportionately facing the prospect of caring for children rather than returning to work. To address this, the CLC is advocating for public investment in childcare, including bilateral agreements with each province to ensure children have safe, high-quality early learning opportunities and all parents can work.

Long-term care (LTC) workers and unions have long warned that seniors in care are being mistreated due to under-resourcing and poor regulation. Their voices were ignored by decision-makers and the consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating. With LTCs already hard-hit by COVID-19 and dangerously understaffed, the next wave of COVID-19 outbreaks expected this fall could make matters even worse. On May 8, the Canadian Labour Congress published a series of recommendations for the future of the LTC sector in Canada. These include bringing LTC into a public health care system and regulating it through the Canada Health Act, which guarantees publicly-funded medicare in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress vision for economic recovery also includes supports for cities and towns of all sizes. Municipalities have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19 because while revenues have fallen they are not allowed to run deficits like provincial and federal governments yet still have important work to do to support their residents through this crisis. The CLC’s recommendations to help cities include an emphasis on funding public infrastructure projects, supporting public transit, and community benefits procurement strategies that help local workers and businesses see the economic benefit of public investments.

The Society of United Professionals is affiliated to the Canadian Labour Congress through its international union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

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