On May 25, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) posted Labour’s Vision for Economic Recovery . Rejecting austerity-thinking, the CLC guiding principles call for government action which focuses on getting Canadians back to work and fully employed in decently paid, productive jobs, based on labour market planning, coordination and concerted government action. Priorities include protection for worker health and safety, including mental health, in the return to work. The CLC also introduces a calls for a Green Youth Job Guarantee: “Following the experience of the European Union, the federal, provincial and territorial governments should establish a guarantee that all young people under the age of 25 will receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education…. This could include a Green Youth Corps providing decent jobs in renewable energy, land remediation and restoration, climate adaptation, building retrofits and sustainable transportation. Additionally, it should include green skills training and learning opportunities. The Green Youth Corps would target marginalized, low-income and at-risk youth in urban centres, as well as in rural and isolated communities.”
Labour’s Vision also calls for public investment in physical, social and green infrastructure, and on renewal and expansion of public services. “Green industrial policy and sector strategies, anchored in union-management dialogue, should provide the framework for expanded investment in manufacturing capacity, skills training and workforce development.” Labour’s Vision concludes: …” It is time to address the precarity, poor working conditions and wage discrimination in sectors dominated by women, including care work, retail and health services. This work is essential to the health and well-being of our communities and economy.” More broadly, it calls for reform of Canada’s long term care sector, accelerating universal pharmacare, and fair taxation.
The CLC, along with other unions and social justice and climate action groups, endorsed the Just Recovery for All campaign launched on May 25. The campaign calls for a fair and just recovery from COVID-19 through relief and stimulus packages based on these six foundation principals: Put people’s health and well-being first; Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people; Prioritize the needs of workers and communities; Build resilience to prevent future crises; Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders; and Uphold Indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous peoples.
Regarding the “Prioritize the needs of workers and communities” principal, the campaign expands with:
“Support must be distributed in a manner consistent with Indigenous sovereignty, a climate resilient economy, and worker rights, including safe and fair labour standards and a right to unionize. Improved conditions for essential service workers must be maintained beyond this crisis.
Bailout packages must not encourage unqualified handouts, regulatory rollbacks, or regressive subsidies that enrich shareholders or CEOs, particularly those who take advantage of tax havens. These programs must support a just transition away from fossil fuels that creates decent work and leaves no one behind.”
In answer to the question “Why did you call it a “just recovery” and not a “healthy”, “resilient”, or “green” recovery?”, Just Recovery for All explains: “We were inspired by principles and organizers in the US and internationally who started the idea of principles for a “Just Recovery” we wanted to align ourselves with global allies. We also wanted to lead with the idea that justice – fairness and equity – needed to be part of the focus of the work coming out of COVID.”
Those who have endorsed the Just Recovery campaign are listed here, with union endorsements from the Canadian Labour Congress, ACTRA, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, CUPE Local 3903, Confederation des syndicats nationaux, Federation de la sante et des services sociaux, Syndicate de professionnelles et profesionnels du government du Quebec, and Toronto and York Regional Labour Council, as well as climate/union coalitions including Blue Green Canada, Green Economy Network, Good Jobs for All. A COVID-19 Yellow Pages lists and summarizes many of the Canadian campaigns currently underway by endorsing organizations.
In the U.K., the Trades Union Congress (TUC) published A Better Recovery on May 20 – like the CLC, rejecting austerity economics and proposing an “investment for growth” approach for post Covid recovery. The report highlights six principles: Decent work (with a higher minimum wage and new collective bargaining rights); Economic stimulus for Just Transition and a low-carbon economy; social security reforms including a job guarantee; rebuilding public services with good jobs in care work; equality at work; new internationalism. Other TUC articles re Covid-19 are here .
Business is offering advice re Economic Recovery too
Just as unions are advocating for their versions of economic recovery, so are businesses. One such Canadian campaign launched in mid-May and now numbers more than 280 Canadian companies and business organizations. The Resilient Recovery campaign is a collaboration between Clean Energy Canada and the Canada Cleantech Alliance—calling for direct and immediate investment in Canadian clean energy and clean tech companies.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce established a Canadian Business Resilience Network to coordinate over 450 chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and business and industry association. In addition to serving their membership, they aspire to “Provide a consistent and reliable flow of accurate, up-to-date, authoritative information; and “Work closely with government to ensure the right supports are in place, and to be a conduit for information from the government to the private sector.” On May 21, the they released Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business, “designed to provide guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.”
Internationally, on May 19 the Science Based Targets initiative, the UN Global Compact, and the We Mean Business coalition issued a joint press release titled: “Over 150 global corporations urge world leaders for net-zero recovery from COVID-19” . Their signed statement urges governments “to prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy by aligning policies and recovery plans with the latest climate science…..We must move beyond business-as-usual and work together in solidarity to deliver the greatest impact for people, prosperity and the planet.” The 150 companies who signed on to the statement are from 33 different countries, but only two are Canadian: Arc’teryx Equipment , SkyPower Global .
(The Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute and WWF, and independently assesses and validates corporate climate targets against the latest climate science. It includes 885 companies which are taking some science-based climate action and 373 companies whose targets have been approved by the SBTi.)