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CUPE delegates, attending the Equality Forum at CUPE National Convention in Montreal, were treated to an evening of poetry from spoken word performers, traditional Punjabi drumming by Montreal drummers and a captivating speech by an economist from the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist from CCPA, combined the power of drumming, story telling and audience participation to illustrate the impact of recessions on working families, especially Canadians from traditionally marginalized groups such as immigrants, racial minorities, aboriginals and others.

Yalnizyan demonstrated how severe recessions, including the current economic downturn, widen the income and equity gap between the very rich and the very poor. With each recession, many of the poor and marginalized groups are left behind and forgotten without a political or economic voice.

Yalnizyan pointed hopefully to the possibility of positive change that lies in our hands. Working people, like CUPE members have the power to affect change. She encouraged union members to form a larger community coalition to engage the broader public and redefine the meaning of economic growth and prosperity - so nobody is left behind.

“We, the larger community, must fight for the people, for public services, and end poverty,” Ms. Yalnizyan stressed as she urged us to work together to Raise the Floor for everyone.