TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 18, 2016) - Ahead of the Council of the Federation meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon on July 20-22, Canada's labour leaders are calling on the provincial and territorial premiers to make Canada's most vulnerable workers the focus of their talks.
"This is the first time the premiers have met in Yukon - and we certainly welcome them to this beautiful part of Canada," said Yukon Federation of Labour President Vikki Quocksister. "It is the hope of workers here and workers from all of the provinces and territories that the premiers will use this historic meeting as a chance to make history for the country's most vulnerable workers."
While the premiers gather for their annual Council of the Federation, the presidents of Canada's provincial and territorial federations of labour are hosting parallel meetings where Canada Pension Plan (CPP) expansion, a $15/hour minimum wage, migrant workers, and Employment Insurance (EI) will be the main priorities.
Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley will also be in attendance where he will raise the opportunity for employment law reform here in Ontario and the need for a $15 minimum wage for all workers.
"No one should have to go to the food bank at the end of the work week just to feed their family. It's time to end poverty wages in Canada, and that means lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour," said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. "The province of Alberta has already led the way to show that a $15 minimum wage is possible, I would now like to see other provinces adopt this plan - starting with Ontario."
Currently, most full-time minimum-wage workers are living below the poverty line as measured by Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Off (LICO). The Federation of Labour Presidents believe the minimum wage should bring people working 35 hours per week above the poverty line, so they can support themselves and their families.
The Federation of Labour Presidents are requesting that the premiers review the minimum wage in their respective provinces, and consider the following recommendations:
- Pledge to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour;
- Implement rapid, yet reasonable, phase-in periods such as the province of Alberta, and;
- Once implemented, make plans to convert from a minimum wage to a living wage.
With regards to EI, there are a number of recommendations the federations of labour will be raising with the premiers and canvassing them for support. Currently, only 40 percent of workers now qualify for regular EI benefits.
The Federation of Labour Presidents are seeking the premiers' support on EI recommendations that include, but are not limited to:
- Hiring more staff in Service Canada Centres and train them in all aspects of a claim;
- Reviewing the automated process to identify and address failures and delays;
- Reinstating the Board of Referees appeal process, and;
- Applying EI surpluses to benefit expansion as opposed to premium reduction.
"Our priorities at this meeting of the Council of the Federation are to fight for vulnerable workers, do what's right for working families, and strengthen the economy," said Quocksister. "This is a tremendous opportunity for the premiers to work with labour leaders from across the country and put forward-thinking, progressive solutions into action."
Together, Canada's provincial and territorial labour federations give voice to more than three million workers, represented by the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Northern Territories Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleises du Québec, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Yukon Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress.