Gearing Up For The 2015 Federal Election: It’s Time To Make Better Choices
Politics It’s a tough time for workers in Canada, with 2.4 million unemployed or underemployed, household debt at an all-time high and too many families living paycheque to paycheque.
A million Canadians juggle multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Over the past six years, nearly three-quarters of all new jobs created have been part-time, temporary, or in the uncertain realm of self-employment. Young workers, facing historically high unemployment, consider themselves lucky if they can land one of those precarious jobs. Few dare to dream of a long-term, meaningful career.
It’s time for change. We need a government that makes better choices.
For starters, instead of banking on the price of oil or tax cuts to drive economic growth, the government could choose to create the good jobs Canadians need and fuel the economy by investing in services and infrastructure.
Seniors and veterans are among the many Canadians wondering why the services they rely on from the federal government can’t be made truly accessible again. Too many of the workers who once worked in good jobs providing those services are out of work today.
Commuters need investment in rapid transit. That would boost ridership, ease congestion, fight climate change and create thousands of local jobs in manufacturing and construction. Cities say they need investment in public infrastructure too, like new wastewater facilities. Let’s listen.
"Creating the good, stable, family-supporting jobs so many Canadians need today is possible."
We could also create tens of thousands of good jobs by making better choices around our public healthcare system.
Many Canadians are waiting too long for health care services and treatments, something that will get worse as our population ages. Four million don’t have a family doctor. Many struggle to find quality long-term care for family members now, and worry that there won’t be enough room in long-term facilities when they need it.
Before the last election, Prime Minister Harper promised to renew the Federal Health Accord, and increase transfer payments to the provinces by six percent a year. But that changed in 2013, when he broke that promise, tying future increases to economic growth. This means a funding decrease of about $36 billion in health care transfers by 2024.
The result? Longer wait times, health care lay-offs and a system that just isn’t ready.
The better choice is to invest what was initially promised so we can recruit, train and retain more healthcare professionals. Then we could increase the number of long-term care beds, and the number of specialized care workers able to give seniors the hands-on care they need.
Supporting the seniors
We could also help parents get to work and boost the economy by making a better child care choice. Two-thirds of kids under five have parents that work – but there aren’t enough childcare spaces for those kids, and the spaces that exist are either unreliable or too costly for most families.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve already seen it work in Quebec. Providing subsidized childcare solutions is more efficient, creates good jobs, helps more women enter and stay in the workforce and grows the economy.
Finally, we need a government that makes better choices to help workers retire.
Too many of today’s seniors live in poverty and too many older workers are realizing they won’t have enough when it’s their turn to retire. Some, because the investment returns they were promised never materialized. Others, because they simply couldn’t save enough on their own.
Voluntary fend-for-yourself approaches won’t work. Expansion of Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) benefits is best way to help today’s workers save enough money for tomorrow.For about the cost of a coffee and a muffin a day, the average worker could double their CPP benefits when they retire. The CPP covers over 90 percent of Canadians with jobs – almost the entire workforce, including the 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension plan.
Creating the good, stable, family-supporting jobs so many Canadians need today is possible. The labour movement isn’t alone in asking the federal government to make the smarter, better choices that would make that happen. Let’s hope the government finally listens, because Canadian workers deserve so much better. If not, let’s all think about making a better choice in the next federal election.