The pandemic has underscored the essential role of workers in a working society, from men and women spending long hours in hospitals to stocking grocery store shelves and making deliveries.
In a health crisis that has disrupted countless work lives and caused millions of layoffs, it is perhaps no surprise that Canada’s major political parties are coming up with a raft of work-related proposals ahead of Monday’s federal election. Are looking for court labor – as well as employers. Increase your staff count.
A change in platforms is evident. The Liberal Party has mentioned “activists” or “workers” 106 times in its 2021 forum, compared to 35 references in 2019. The New Democratic Party does so on 90 occasions, up from 65. and the Conservative Party 108 times, a sharp jump 12 mentions two years ago.
This ends up being largely unanimous. Among contenders, their action proposals differ fundamentally and have little overlap, rarely deviating from party conservatism about which people support – and by how much.
Conservative Canada focuses on the Workers’ Benefit (CWB), a refundable tax credit to help working, low-income individuals and families. The Tory plan would double the CWB to a maximum of $2,800 for individuals or $5,000 for families, paid as a quarterly direct deposit instead of an annual tax refund.
It is the Tories’ most expensive plan, covering nearly half of their $51.3 billion in proposed net new spending over five years. (For their part, the Liberals expanded access to the CWB in a spring budget aimed at supporting an additional million people.)
The key point is that it is work-related income support and is not given unconditionally, said Miles Korac, a professor of economics at the City University of New York whose research often focuses on Canadian social policies.
“This benefit doesn’t make you a penny if you don’t work,” he said. “Philosophically, it appeals to a conservative mindset.”
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All parties are proposing a series of changes to employment insurance, which failed spectacularly in the early days of the pandemic and were replaced by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for several months. Problems with EI pre-pandemic and can be boiled down to three main issues: it is slow to respond to economic shocks, it does not cover enough of the unemployed, and payments can be too low.
On the last issue, the NDP is proposing a low-income supplement, so anyone receiving an EI will receive no less than $2,000 a month. In short, this pandemic will make the baseline of income support permanent. It is not clear what it will cost, as it was not evaluated by the non-partisan parliamentary budget official.
Jim Stanford, director of the Center for the Future, said during the pandemic, “I think a lot of people opened their eyes and said, ‘You know what if you need $500 a week to survive. Work, a think tank.
A major concern is how to help the self-employed. They are largely out of EI benefits, which was part of the motivation for creating CERB (and later, Canada Recovery Benefit).
The Liberals are proposing a “new EI benefit” for this group, which provides support for up to 26 weeks. will contribute the same EI as the self-employed employee; The rest (usually covered by an employer) would require $1.4 billion in spending over the first four years, according to the party.
On gig workers, liberals say they will amend the Canada Labor Code to allow those employed by digital platforms, such as Uber Technologies Inc., who are classified as contractors and thus from hosting job security are missed. employees. Those companies will also have to make EI and Canada Pension Plan contributions based on changes in the Income Tax Act.
The Tories are taking a different approach. Instead of paying an EI premium, gig companies will contribute a similar amount to a “savings account” that workers can access in certain scenarios, such as a job loss. Labor groups have in fact widely criticized the plan for not providing access to EI jobless benefits.
B. Bruske, president of the Canadian Labor Congress, said gig workers “should be designated as an employee.” “They should have full access to all the laws, rights and benefits that any other worker has.”
The trouble, Mr Stanford said, is that without increased legal protections for gig workers, their employers can offset contributions such as EI by cutting wages. The Tories are “giving the employer what they want,” he said.
The economy is still recovering from the pandemic and all parties are looking to boost hiring. Based on today’s population, Canada would need another 400,000 workers for a full recovery of the employment rate.
Liberals are looking to extend wage and rent subsidies to the hardest-hit businesses in tourism. The NDP will expand those subsidies until small businesses “can fully reopen.”
The Tories will let those programs end next month. Instead, they will subsidize up to 50 percent of wages net new employees more than six months. the program is somewhat similar Canada Recovery Hiring Program, which was launched by the Liberals over the summer, and will extend through March 2022.
Ultimately, the employment solution may be simpler: getting COVID-19 under control.
“The major determinant of hiring decisions is the firm’s forecast of product demand,” Prof. Korak said. “The pandemic has thrown a wrench through the system and introduced all kinds of uncertainties.
“It’s putting the pandemic behind us which is going to boost employment.”
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