Tag Archives: workers

May Day 2020: Global crisis creates opportunity for workers

May Day illustration, 4 people with a flag and loud speakers

Usually, on the first day of May, workers around the globe celebrate International Workers Day, taking to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity. Today, most of the world is locked down by COVID-19. In Canada, large segments of the economy are frozen, and millions have been thrown out of work and onto the federal government’s emergency benefit plan. Those who are still employed are doing their jobs in extremely difficult circumstances; many are putting their health and lives at risk as they attend to the well-being of others, making sure we have food to eat, and ensure the health and safety of the population.

Yet, while we are all struggling to cope with these unprecedented challenges that the pandemic has thrown at us, we are also experiencing a time of unprecedented social solidarity. Despite the necessity to stay physically distant, people are coming together to help each other in extraordinary ways. Also, this crisis has brought governments—especially the federal government—to take actions that until now they have refused us: actions such as expanding access to Employment Insurance, boosting the wages of low paid workers, providing special financial support for women’s shelters, providing emergency housing, and even making child care free – at-least for some.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous hardship, suffering and tragic loss for so many, but it has also created an opening for big change. The horrific living and working conditions in the long-term care sector have been exposed, as have other dangerous consequences of decades of government cuts and corporate greed. People are more conscious of their own vulnerabilities and understand better the importance of having robust social support systems in place. There is consensus that going back to the way things used to be is not an option.

On this May Day, let’s mourn the loss of so many, and so much, in such a short time. Let’s pledge to keep helping each other through the pandemic. And let’s make sure that we don’t go back to the old normal—instead, let’s work to rebuild and remake our country and the world into something much, much better.

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

Government Must Address Staffing Issues to Smooth Refugee Process

Border Security Icon

PSAC is calling on the federal government to address organizational and workload issues resulting from the influx of asylum seekers from the United States. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen must take responsibility for fixing these persistent problems.

“There are not enough front-line workers,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “And, from what we are hearing from our members, it is an organizational nightmare.”

Employees at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) have been given new assignments, made family arrangements to accommodate their new schedules, and are then told the plans have changed again. Confusion over assignment of duties and failures of communication in the workplace are also putting undue stress on these PSAC members working on the front lines.

Our members at Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) say more resources are needed, including more Border Services Officers. The number of new workers being hired is insufficient. Harper-era job cuts have not been restored by the current Liberal government, and these workers are being asked to do more with less.

“People arriving in Canada, particularly those in duress, deserve to be treated with dignity,” said Benson. “Our members are doing their best. However, without additional resources, clear directions from management, and adequate facilities, these workers will continue to face a workplace crisis.”

PSAC encourages the Ministers responsible for IRCC, IRB and CBSA to listen to their employees about the specific issues that need to be addressed. As always, listening to the people doing the work, and the unions representing them, is crucial to delivering quality public services.

This article was first published on the PSAC website.