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Labour Day 2020: Moving Canada Forward Together

Photo of CIU flag

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has revealed the critical value of front-line workers. Healthcare workers, cleaners, grocery store staff, delivery drivers and many more continued working through the height of the pandemic, ensuring Canadians had access to basic amenities and services.

Tens of thousands of PSAC members did the same. They kept our food supply safe, maintained our borders, and ensured that millions of laid off workers received the financial relief they needed in record time.

While these unprecedented emergency relief measures were largely successful as a temporary safety net, a full, equitable, and resilient recovery for Canada demands an even more ambitious plan. That’s why this Labour Day we not only recognize workers’ essential contributions during the pandemic, but also commit ourselves to a plan to move Forward Together and come out of this crisis even stronger.

A moment for unprecedented change

Canada’s parliament, led by a Liberal minority government, is at a critical juncture. It can either rise to this historic occasion by working to put in place a bold and courageous recovery program, or it can opt to not prepare for the next crisis.

Rebuilding our economy that is disaster proof and works to the benefit of all Canadians will mean addressing the failures and weaknesses revealed by the pandemic. It will mean a massive commitment to public investment by the federal government not seen since the post-war period to:

  • Replace lost jobs with better ones by hiring people to build green infrastructure, to educate our youth and to care for others.

  • Strengthen public health care by introducing a universal Pharmacare plan to reduce the cost of medicine and incorporating long-term care into Canada’s universal public health care system.

  • Put in place a high quality, inclusive and fully accessible system of publicly-funded child care—something all economists and women’s organizations recognize as essential to economic recovery for everyone, not only parents with young children.

  • Strengthen social income support systems by reforming Employment Insurance and making sure workers have access to paid sick leave.

Forward Together

How will we pay for it?

While millions of workers struggled, many big businesses continued reaping massive profits throughout the pandemic. Canada’s big five banks alone recorded a stunning $9 billion in profits in their latest quarterly reports. There is no better time than now to ask big business to pay its fair share through a higher tax rate on profits.

Moreover, public spending on Canada’s social infrastructure will pay back big dividends by making our economy stronger, safer and more resilient, and by reducing profound inequities—including racial and gender inequities.

Towards the Canada workers deserve

This Labour Day, let’s demand that Canada’s political leaders seize this historic opportunity to build an economy that can weather the next storm and bring with it social and economic justice.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.