Labour Day messageAug 31, 2012 08:33 AM
On Labour Day we take a moment to celebrate the important contributions of working people to our country. It is workers who build our cities, produce the goods we use day-to-day, and provide vital services that Canadians depend on.
We are proud of the work our members do every day to make life better for Canadians. CUPE members are the backbone of health care, municipal and social services. We’re a vital part of our community’s’ schools colleges and universities. Whether it’s providing senior care or child care, CUPE members are there – safeguarding our water, delivering power when needed and keeping passengers safe aboard airplanes.
Canadians benefit from these services - the value of these public services to the average Canadian family is nearly $17,000 every year according to a study by the CCPA. And these services and the workers who provide them are a reflection of our Canadian values. But there are many challenges facing working people.
Workers are being told they must shoulder the burden of an economic crisis they did not create. We have paid the price in declining wages, less job security, worsening working conditions and persistent attempts to erode public and workplace pensions.
Meanwhile, Canada’s largest corporations are pulling in billions of dollars in profits. The OECD estimates that corporations are sitting on more than $500 billion – hoarding their winnings rather than investing it in our economy to stimulate growth and create jobs.
And, after a lifetime of work, everyone deserves to retire in dignity. Yet 11 million Canadians don’t have a workplace pension. We must continue to demand decent public and workplace pensions for everyone. We must demand that our federal government show leadership on this important issue that affects all Canadians. Even the CD Howe institute – normally onside with conservative governments – has said that the Harper government should “rethink” strategy to introduce Pooled Registered Pension Plans. The financial security of Canadians in retirement is a looming crisis for governments and ultimately taxpayers.
Canadians deserve better.
It’s time to change the direction of our country. We must create jobs – good jobs with decent pay and benefits. We can do this by investing in public services that create jobs and provide services for Canadians. We must ensure that we are not faced with a population of seniors without adequate income and reliant on government income supports. We can do this by improving the Canada Pension Plan for all Canadians.
This Labour Day, CUPE is renewing its call on the federal government to convene a national summit on pensions. The summit would bring together business, labour, government and academia to confront the burgeoning economic crisis on retirement security. We have the knowledge and the financial capacity to ensure all Canadians can retire after a lifetime of work without the fear of poverty.
We can change the direction of our country – with political leadership that puts people first and by standing together to demand better.
So, let us mark this Labour Day with renewed hope and a commitment to rebuild our Canada.