Forward Together - Solidarity in Challenging Times
Stephen von Sychowski, President, Vancouver & District Labour
Council and Janet Andrews, Secretary-Treasurer , New Westminster & District Labour Council
We celebrate this Labour Day at a time of transition. The
last few years saw enormous social and economic upheaval, loss and uncertainty
driven by the global pandemic. As we
return to in-person gatherings this year we are looking forward to a time of
reconnection, of solidarity in struggle, of remembrance and rededication. We
acknowledge those we have lost, those still struggling with illness, recovery,
job loss, underemployment, mental health impacts and stress.
It is not as straightforward as a return to normal. Indeed,
there is no such thing as normal in this changing but ongoing pandemic. In
addition to the changes to the way we work, live and learn, we see again the
challenges that never left and whose urgency is all the sharper: inequity,
affordability, and the opioid crisis. Rising inflation and calls for austerity;
the threat of war; the looming climate crisis; food insecurity, and the growth
of the far-right, intolerance, and hate have brought yet more uncertainty and
stress to the lives of working families. Meeting these challenges will take
focus, determination and hard work. Our response must be solidarity in its
broadest, deepest, most encompassing meaning, with each other and with our
communities, if we are to truly move forward together.
Workers and their families are a source of stability and
constancy in our communities. Good jobs are the foundation of the local
economy, supporting families, businesses, and the public services we all rely
on. It was workers, on the frontline and behind the scenes, who continued to
show up every day during the pandemic, ensuring we were safe, healthy, supplied
and supported. Unlike the self-serving motives of the very wealthy, who raked
in record profits while fighting against pandemic pay and sick leave, the
solidarity and commitment of workers to their neighbours and to each other is
leadership every bit as powerful and necessary as that of those elected to high
office. This leadership and constancy are the solid foundation on which we can
build the future.
Transition brings uncertainty and stress, but also
opportunity. We have a window of time to raise issues and ideas, to broaden
conversations, to question, and to make change. From ensuring a robust pandemic
recovery, to creating good jobs, investing in taking better care of each other
through a stronger social safety net, pushing back against the rhetoric of
austerity, tackling climate change with a just transition for workers, and
fighting for social justice, equality and diversity, the labour movement has
the answers to what will make a better future for all. But only by standing
together will we make sure our voices are heard. Without solidarity and
singleness of purpose we risk being drowned out and divided by the forces of
greed and intolerance....
Higher Interest Rates Producing a Predictable but Avoidable Recession
By Jim Stanford, Economist and Director, Centre for Future Work
New labour force
data from Statistics Canada confirm that Canada’s economy is already slowing
down sharply as a result of aggressive interest rate increases begun by the
Bank of Canada in March.
With the U.S.
economy (Canada’s largest trading partner) already in technical recession (with
two consecutive quarters of real GDP contraction), and monthly GDP data showing
no growth since May, this new report adds to worries that Canada’s economy is
heading into recession as well.
The labour force
data confirm that the aggressive monetary tightening begun by the Bank of
Canada in March is having a negative impact on employment and participation in
Canada’s labour market.
in July for the second consecutive month, with a cumulative loss since May of
74,000 jobs. That’s the worst decline unrelated to COVID lockdowns since the
Employment is now
lower than it was in March when the Bank of Canada began lifting interest
sign is the accelerating drop in labour force participation, which has fallen
0.7 percentage points since March. That represents the loss of 225,000 workers
from the labour market, at a time when many employers still complain of a
upsurge in inflation was obviously not caused by labour market conditions. The
Bank of Canada itself agrees it was sparked by supply chain disruptions, the
global energy price shock, and changes in consumer buying patterns.
arises mostly from supply-side constraints, it is self-defeating to respond by
chasing hundreds of thousands of workers out of the labour market. That doesn’t
fix supply chain problems, it makes them worse.
rates also discourage investment in new capacity and supply infrastructure.
This will also make the underlying cause of today’s inflation worse, not
wage growth has increased, it still lags well behind current inflation. This
means that average real wages (and the living standards of Canadian workers)
continue to fall.
In the 12 months
to June, average real hourly wages declined by 2.7%, and are now below