Portrait of a happy construction worker at a building site

Canada’s unions mark May Day by calling on governments to prioritize workers and their families

May 1, 2021

Canada’s unions are marking May Day by urging the federal government to act quickly to implement its most recent budget promises, which include significant investments in child care, job creation and skills training.

May Day is an annual celebration held every May 1st during which workers from around the world celebrate the achievements made by trade unions. This year, the pandemic remains a focal point for the concerns of workers and their families.

“Millions of workers around the world have lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “Here in Canada, the federal government recently promised significant investments to help with our recovery. Canada’s political leaders must now work together to pass the budget implementation bill and turn these promises into action.”

The government’s recently announced investments in child care, training and skills development and a $15 federal minimum wage, in addition to a further expansion of emergency benefits would bring much needed relief to workers and their families.

Workers in Canada – and around the world – continue to struggle under the weight of the year-long pandemic. Developed countries have a responsibility to ensure that all workers in developing and under developing nations have access to vaccines to help put an end to this global health crisis.

In the meantime, gaps in the social safety net, both at home and abroad, have become painfully clear. Those gaps include a shameful lack of paid sick leave in most provinces.

“Workers and advocates have been calling for paid sick leave since before the pandemic,” said Yussuff.

“However, COVID-19 has highlighted just how dangerous a lack of paid sick time can be. Being able to stay home when you are sick is fundamental to reducing workplace exposures and illness. Essential workers being forced to choose between going to work sick and putting food on the table puts us all at risk and is prolonging and deepening the impacts of the pandemic. Provincial and territorial governments must act immediately.”

Canada’s unions further remind all levels of government to respect and uphold the collective bargaining rights of workers, even during times of crisis.

“Upholding workers’ rights is integral to the functioning of a free and fair democracy in which there is a counterweight to the unfettered power of employers and monied interests. Collective bargaining ensures a more fair, equitable present and future for all.”

To learn more about what unions are calling for, visit canadianplan.ca.

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