Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

October 21, 2008 16:09 ET

Labour Leaders Demand a Say in Federal Economic Plan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 21, 2008) - Canada's labour unions want a say in the federal government's plan to cushion our economy and protect working Canadians from the consequences of the recent meltdown of global financial markets and the economic slowdown it has triggered.

Meeting in Ottawa this week, the Executive Council of the Canadian Labour Congress, which includes the country's largest unions along with provincial and territorial labour federations, adopted a range of policy solutions that it insists must be part of the federal government's plan to protect the livelihoods and the savings of working people.

Topping the list of labour demands was an immediate meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in advance of upcoming international summits called to deal with the global economic crisis.

"Hard working, responsible people who have played by the rules all their lives need to know that their savings, their pensions and their homes will not become the collateral damage of this financial crisis. They need to know the things they have worked so hard for will not be taken away from them. At the very least, they need to know that the people working on solutions to the economic crisis are on their side," said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Georgetti says it is no longer good enough to feed working Canadians mantras about "the fundamentals being strong", or spin about Canada having the best banks on the planet. When the ship is sinking nobody cares about its reputation as "unsinkable", What really matters is when help is coming and if there are enough lifeboats for everyone on board.

Yesterday, the United Nations issued a report estimating that recent market turmoil could result in 20 million job losses worldwide. Since the end of the first quarter of 2008, Canadians have lost $100 billion from their pensions and retirement savings due to the Wall Street sub-prime mess. Before that, in the summer of 2007, Canadian retirees lost $13 billion because of the Asset Backed Commercial Paper fiasco. Meanwhile, Canada's manufacturing and forestry sectors have lost almost 350,000 jobs in recent years.

"The question today is not whether we will see large job losses and rising unemployment in Canada, but rather how deep and prolonged the crisis will be and whether the federal government's plan is just about protecting the banks or includes measures to help ordinary people weather the storm," he says.

In addition to policy options for financial stimulus and tighter controls on rampant market speculation, the Canadian Labour Congress also wants to ensure any plan adopted by the federal government includes measures to protect private pensions, expand public pensions, ensure the availability of Employment Insurance to laid off workers and a cap on executive compensation.

At the heart of the labour plan is economic activism on the government's part through investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and greater energy efficiencies, rebuilding the manufacturing and forestry sectors, and reforms to employment and labour laws.

"This is a problem with the potential to touch us all. It demands solutions that include us all and measures that are fair. Working people know there will be sacrifices. They should not be expected to make them all, or any for that matter without consultation," says Georgetti.

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: www.canadianlabour.ca

Contact Information

  • Canadian Labour Congress
    Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425 and 613-863-1413