Every Labour Day the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) recognizes the achievements of workers to the well-being and improvements of our province. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Labour Day was often a time for parades, barbecues and other celebrations.
The past 18 months of the pandemic has been extremely challenging for all of us. But thanks to the heroic work of first responders and front-line workers in health-care and the service industries, we continue to pull through.
The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on all Canadians, most especially seniors in long-term care. It also exposed many weaknesses in our labour laws. Many low-wage workers were employed in jobs with no benefits, including paid sick days. While public health officials demanded individuals with cough or flu symptoms to self-isolate, many workers were compelled to go to work.
These workers kept us fed, healthy, housed and supported during one of the most significant economic and social upheavals in recent memory. They did all of this while risking their own health and safety, and that of their families. Meanwhile, CEOs making record profits unashamedly clawed back pandemic wages despite the ongoing risks.
ST. JOHN’S — Implementing the ‘Big Reset’ recommendations in the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team (PERT) report will create unnecessary suffering and make the economic crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador worse, finds Unifor Economist and ‘A Fair Reset’ blog author Kaylie Tiessen.
“We’ve learned through experience in other jurisdictions that cutting wages and public services to deal with debt and deficits can actually deepen an economic crisis,” said Tiessen. “Massive cuts can create an unemployment crisis that further erodes a government’s ability to pay by reducing the tax base and increasing the need for services. It’s a downward spiral that drags more and more people into poverty or insecurity or both.”
The ‘Big Reset’ calls for drastic measures that include cutting thousands of jobs and slashing key services while evidence clearly shows that creating higher quality employment and investing in stronger public services would grow the economy and make higher levels of debt more manageable. The downward pressure on jobs and services recommended by PERT would more daunting, maintains Tiessen.
In October 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report highlighting the value of public investment in programs, such as health care, stating they can actually speed up economic recovery. The researchers found an investment in public programs equal to 1% of Gross Domestic Product increases economic activity by 2.7%. Further, private investment increases by 10% and jobs increase by 1.2%. The Bank of Canada has also highlighted the need for inclusive growth by focusing on creating sustainable growth that leaves fewer people behind in order to make higher levels of debt more manageable.
Newfoundland and Labrador already has the highest rate of unemployment in the country. 25% of workers earn minimum wage and a full 30% earn below $15 an hour. The province is one of the most unequal in the country. The share of income brought home by the top 10% of income earners has steadily grown over the last 20 years while the share brought home by the bottom 10% has declined.
“These trends will only increase if the PERT recommendations are adopted, with increased inequality as more people are pushed into low wage work. The fact is that inequality is a drag on economic growth and actually holds us all back,” Tiessen stated.
‘A Fair Reset’ blog will be published weekly until the week before the scheduled resumption of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly on October 18.
For media inquiries or to arrange a phone or Zoom interview with Kaylie Tiessen please contact
Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).
ST. JOHN’S —The ‘Big Reset’ spending cut recommendations in the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team (PERT) report would result in the loss of nearly 9,000 jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador if implemented, finds new research.
“We’re talking about a 4% drop in the number of jobs available to the province’s workers, with almost three-quarters of the job loss in health care,” said Mary Shortall, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. “Shockingly, the final PERT report fails to calculate the actual number of jobs that would be eliminated or factor in how access to vital services, including health care, would be reduced.”
The devastating projected job loss figure is contained in the first of a new series of blog reports titled ‘A Fair Reset’, published today by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.
In the series, 10 leading economists, political scientists, geographers, writers and professors analyze the financial and socio-economic impacts of the PERT report and provide alternative, progressive recommendations to build a stronger, fairer and more inclusive economy.
“The ‘Big Reset’ is meant to stimulate the economy, create jobs and attract young people to the province. If the government thinks that the PERT plan will accomplish this goal it is sorely mistaken and workers will pay the price,” says Unifor Economist and ‘A Fair Reset’ blog author Kaylie Tiessen. “Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy could certainly use a reset, but not the one that PERT is calling for.”
Instead of eliminating jobs, Tiessen advocates for policies to grow the economy from the ground up by investing in programs and services that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians rely on and ensuring the jobs created and maintained pay enough for people to get by, provide for fair scheduling and deliver high quality services.
“Premier Andrew Furey needs to create good paying jobs, not take them away,” said Shortall. “I’m asking the government to scrap the Big Reset and join with workers and unions to build a post-pandemic economy that will increase family sustaining jobs, inject cash into our local communities and keep workers from leaving the province.”
‘A Fair Reset’ blog will be released weekly starting August 10, 2021 until the week before the scheduled resumption of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly on October 18. Future research blogs topics will include provincial debt, technology in health care, just transition and the dangers of austerity measures.
For media inquiries or to arrange a phone or Zoom interview with Kaylie Tiessen please contact Unifor Director of Communications Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).
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