“The last decade will be remembered as a time when a select few profited at the expense of many. The next decade should be about giving back,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Those hit hardest by the recession will need help getting back on their feet, while newer, better social policies must be put in place for the security of generations to come.”
The financial crisis created heavy insecurity for Canada’s working people – from massive job losses to pension scares few Canadians ever imagined they’d see.
“The recession has revealed our current employment insurance and pension systems to be inadequate. And the deregulation that helped create a speculative and financial market boom is a deeply volatile way of doing business. We need to fix these public policy and economic problems,” said Moist. “We shouldn’t rebuild our economy to suit the old model.”
Moist also urges Canadians to defend their public services. “As Canada’s great equalizer, public services allow all Canadians a decent quality of life, while doubling as the best source of stimulus and stability for the economy,” says Moist.
“There is growing alarmism about government deficits and debts that will be used as an excuse to cut public services and workers’ wages. But Canada is the most fiscally stable of all G7 countries and isn’t remotely close to facing any sort of debt crisis,” adds Moist.
The past year has also demonstrated a dire need for the federal government to re-think public policy. “It’s time to chart a new course on pensions, with a pan-Canadian solution that ensures no retired worker will have to live in poverty,” says Moist. “An expansion of the Canada Pension Plan is a step in the right direction. By increasing the CPP gradually, but with mandatory payments, we can ensure a more secure retirement for everyone. All Canadians should have a pension.”
While Canada’s EI system has seen some positive changes in the last year, Moist would like to see further reform of the program’s entrance requirements. “A uniform entrance requirement of 360 hours for access to regular Employment Insurance benefits would go a long way to support Canadians who are temporarily out of work,” says Moist.
“Working people have gone through a lot in the last year. As we enter a new decade, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve learned, and consider what we can do differently in 2010.”