Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

December 19, 2008 15:06 ET

Canadian Labour Congress: There They Go Again

Labour reacts to Flaherty's Economic Advisory Council

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 19, 2008) - Only weeks after Canada broke it's own record for the most jobs lost in a single month - 71,000 people lost their jobs in November - and after being forced to shut down Parliament just eight days into a new session because it so badly misread the economic state of the country, the Harper government has borrowed an idea from our neighbours to the south.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Flaherty announced the creation of an economic advisory council to help the government decide what needs to be done to move the country through the tough times ahead. We hope that what we heard yesterday was a partial list of the advisory council membership, because, as it stands, too many voices are missing.

Compared to the obvious source of Minister Flaherty s inspiration, the contrast couldn't be more striking.

In the United States, President-elect Obama put together a broadly representative Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and includes economists, business and labour leaders, and academics.

But Finance Minister Flaherty's new advisory council, who will suggest measures to include in the January budget, is made up of business leaders and well, business leaders - four of whom are connected to the richest families in Canada and many of whom could potentially benefit from the advice they give and the access they will get.

The lone academic and the lone economist on Jim Flaherty's advisory council, Jack Mintz, thinks a partial refund on the dividend tax credit is just the measure needed to stimulate the economy. Of course, that would help high income investors and owners of income trusts. But there's not much there for low income workers who don't tend to invest, since they pretty much use all their available income for basics like housing, food, transit, looking after their families.

There are quite a few economists out there who correctly predicted this crash and its consequences, but none of them is on Mr. Flaherty s advisory council. Also missing is anyone to speak for those really suffering the impact of what has become the biggest boondoggle of corporate greed and excess since before the Great Depression, and anyone who can speak to what's needed to reform EI so that it can support workers who are losing their jobs, and give them access to training and skills development.

There is also a distinct lack of anyone or any organization that has been critical of the Harper government's current approach to the economic crisis. It is the same crowd of CEOs whose past advice and recent practices created the economic crisis.

Which is why we hope that what the Minister released yesterday was only a partial list, and that a wider range of Canadian voices will be invited to advise the government in the coming days.

Otherwise, it looks like the Minister and his government still don't get it. They still can't resist their own selfish partisanship and find themselves compelled stack the deck in favour of their own narrow point of view.

At a time when Canadians are losing their jobs in record numbers and staple industries are on the verge of collapse, we need all hands on deck. A government that deliberately limits itself to the advice of only a certain class and goes out of its way to exclude all others is the last thing we need.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site:

Contact Information

  • Canadian Labour Congress
    Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425 or 613-863-1413
    Canadian Labour Congress
    613-521-4655 (FAX)