Canada’s unions urge MPs to address workers as we head into a new year

January 29, 2024

Bruske: Workers are calling on MPs for relief from the relentless cost-of-living crisis

OTTAWA––As MPs head back to Parliament, Canada’s unions urged decision-makers to put people first by alleviating the cost-of-living crisis, fixing the healthcare crisis and the workforce crisis, and helping communities cope with the devastating impacts of climate change.

“Workers and their families are facing tough financial choices to make ends meet, and many worry for the stability of their jobs as we collectively face a crucial economic and climate transition,” said Bruske. “Workers need the government to act as families fall further behind.”

Tangible actions the government can take to offer real and immediate relief to Canadians include creating a windfall profits tax on large food retailers and using the revenues to fund an extension of the grocery rebate and implementing a single-payer universal public prescription drug plan that provides coverage for all, no matter their income, age, or where they live.

“I’ve heard troubling stories from workers telling me they stay up at night trying to figure out how they’ll pay rent, put food on the table and provide the medication their kids need. We’re paying over 40% more for basics like pasta and butter and 50% more for the fruits and vegetables that keep us healthy” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Workers expect the government to help. They need MPs to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis and provide immediate relief from sky-high food prices.”

Workers are also waiting on MPs to pass Bill C-50, the Sustainable Jobs Act, which would offer workers hope and stability and ensure they have a seat at the decision-making table when it comes to their future.

“It’s a new year, but some things haven’t changed – the Conservatives are still the same anti-worker party they always were,” said Bruske. “Before the break, the Conservative’s stance on the Sustainable Jobs act was nothing but shenanigans — wasting time and public dollars. Let’s be honest, if Poilievre was on the side of workers like he claims to be, he would support this bill and stop blocking it.”

Across his record on healthcare, austerity, anti-labour laws, and cutting support for unemployed workers, Poilievre undermines workers and their unions.

“Workers and their unions see through Poilievre’s nonsense,” said Bruske. “I encourage Mr. Poilievre to let his actions prove his promises: does he support workers or not?”

Another pressing issue for workers is housing. With rising rents and house prices hitting record highs – it’s increasingly hard for workers and their families to find an affordable place to live. Canada’s strategy is not enough to provide for the anticipated demand for shelter from Canadians. To address this issue, the government should invest in housing similar to the scale seen after the Second World War.

“The underinvestment and policy decisions by federal and provincial governments since the 1990s have crippled our housing supply to the point of crisis. It’s not enough to ‘incentivize’ private developers, workers need their government to have greater ambition,” said Bruske. “But one thing is clear: immigration did not cause the housing crisis. Everyone benefits from people wanting to come to Canada and contribute to our economy and our culture. We should encourage and facilitate that, including making sure we have the infrastructure to support them.”

The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent more than 3 million workers across the country.

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