CUPE is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go big to support all workers through the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – and to take action now.
“Workers need to be staying home to help keep this pandemic at bay, but they can’t do it without help to pay the rent and feed their families,” said Mark Hancock, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “And they need that help now. We have to pull out all the stops to keep Canadians at home, so we can stem the transmission of COVID-19 and make sure our health care system can cope.”
“We also must ensure that those who have to continue working through this crisis get access to the child care, transportation and personal protective equipment they need,” continued Hancock.
With steep drops in activity rippling through the Canadian economy, more and more employers will be unable to continue on their own. “This crisis requires historic levels of financial support from the government to help Canadians keep their jobs and, in turn, keep the Canadian economy afloat,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.
CUPE is calling on the government to take the following steps right away:
- Send a one-time emergency payment of $2,000 to everyone, to help casual, part-time and other precarious workers stay afloat
- Waive the one-week waiting period for all Employment Insurance benefits, implement a benefit floor of $300 per week, and increase the replacement rate to 75 per cent
- Create a single point of access for all federal benefits to minimize delays in getting money and supports out the door
- Ensure businesses receiving federal support are either keeping their employees on payroll or using that support to top-up EI payments when layoffs are unavoidable
- Ensure any sectoral bailout packages put workers front and centre, and involve an equity stake for the government
- Ensure that front line workers have the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe on the job, and work with provinces to provide them free child care
- Corporations and banks – already receiving generous federal support – should waive interest payments and defer loan and mortgage repayment deadlines without penalty
- Ban evictions and create a federal rent bank to keep people housed through this crisis
CUPE is Canada’s largest union, representing over 700,000 workers in nearly every sector and in every province, many of whom are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in health care, social services, transportation, and other areas.