OTTAWA, ON – “Today’s fiscal update confirmed many Canadian workers’ suspect – that the Harper government isn’t concerned about them,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist.
“Canadians were hoping for the government to step up and show leadership. But there was no plan to combat a recession, only a divisive and small minded program to fight the opposition, with workers and women as the victims,” said Moist.
The government plan does nothing to protect working Canadians during this economic crisis. In fact, workers’ rights are being slowly chipped away. “A temporary removal of the right to strike in the federal public service sends a clear message to Canadians that the Harper government does not care about workers,” said Moist.
The government also plans to reform pay equity in the federal public service. “This is an attack on women who still earn only $0.70 for every $1 earned by men,” said Moist.
Meanwhile, Canada’s unemployment rate is rising, and people are struggling. But our current EI system is ill-equipped to deal with a recession. “Today’s update failed to address our flawed system, where only 40% of workers qualify for what are now poverty-level benefits,” said Moist. “And while the update vaguely addresses pensions, it promises nothing to help seniors who are currently living in poverty.”
The fiscal update should have included a strong vision for job creation, including desperately-needed investment in infrastructure. Instead, Canadians were assured that government assets and Crown corporations will be reviewed and might be sold – with no mention of an infrastructure plan.
“Unlike other countries, Canada has no plan to save jobs,” said Moist. “Our government is opting for belt-tightening, while the U.S., the U.K. and the European Commission have all proposed stimulus plans. Recessions are when people need government. The Harper government only wants to downsize, and leave working Canadians and their families to their own devices.”
For further information: Allison Gifford, CUPE Communications, 613-852-1494