Labour Views for September 17, 2014
Submitted by Mary Lou Cherwaty, President NTFL

During the last week of August, all of the Provincial and Territorial Premiers met in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for the Council of the Federation. The Federation of Labour Presidents from across the country took this opportunity to deliver a unified message to the First Ministers, consisting of the following proposals:

Labour Market Skills Development
Restore financial and human resources to Statistics Canada to enable it to carry out vital research and supply critical labour market data to all stakeholders.
• Ensure that all Boards established, including Provincial/Territorial Labour Market Part-ners Forums to develop and implement strategies to improve labour market skills train-ing include equal number of employer and labour representatives and aim toward building a tripartite-based plan.
• Develop an Aboriginal Youth Workforce Development strategy which includes a work-force readiness component.
• Establish an effective Youth training and employment strategy.
• Clearly define the role of institution-based learning (e.g. Community Colleges) and spe-cialized skills training delivered by individual unions; ensure both training models are developed and enhanced to meet current and future labour market needs.
• Establish apprenticeship requirements on all public sector infrastructure projects.

Temporary Foreign Workers
• Develop a sensible immigration strategy and eliminate the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that’s currently in place.
• Convert the current work permit population into permanent residents of Canada.
• Develop a strategy to fill present and future labour market gaps by accelerating training for Canadians. The strategy should include a plan for improving training opportunities for groups who are under-represented in the workforce.
• If it becomes necessary to use Temporary Foreign Workers from time to time, the practice should be limited to senior and middle-management occupations and professional occupations that require a university degree.
• There should be stricter conditions to be met by employers in order to demonstrate that their labour needs can’t be filled domestically. These applications must be subject to detailed review by the enabling agency before be granted.
• Demand greater transparency from employers using the International Mobility Program (IMP)to bring foreign workers into the country and ensure that workers being brought into the country through trade agreements and reciprocal agreements aren’t being used to displace Canadians or supress Canadian wages.

The Health Accord
• Renew the Health Accord between Canada and the provinces and territories which ex-pired this year, and avoid the $36 billion in cuts to health care over the next 10 years that will result.
• Enhance and strengthen public Medicare by adopting the following measures:
a) Provide adequate and stable funding for Medicare.
b) Establish and enforce national standards.
c) Develop a national public healthcare associated infections strategy.
d) Build new, and expand existing, community health centres.
e) Establish a national continuing care program.
f) Establish effective and accessible Pharmacare and Dental programs.

Employment Insurance
• Remove the barriers to fair access to Employment Insurance that have been erected that prevent workers from receiving benefits that they’ve paid for and are entitled to. Less than 40% of unemployed Canadians are able to collect benefits that all workers pay into.
• Implement improvements to the Service Canada administrative practices to ensure that claimants are able to contact the EI Commission in order to file claims, seek information, receive decisions and process appeals in a timely manner.
• Restore the more than $52 billion that was withdrawn from the Unemployment Insur-ance fund by federal governments since 1993.
• Restore and improve the EI appeal system that existed until 2013 and dismantle the discredited Social Security Tribunal (SST) that took its place.
• Take immediate action to address the unacceptable backlog of appeals that has developed since the SST was put in place.

Canadian Pension Plan
• Continue to advocate for and support an increase to CPP benefits until they are double their current level.
• Return the retirement age to 65.
• Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Clear action on these five important issues will go a long way to ensuring fairness for all Canadians!

Federation of Labour Presidents in photo left to right:
Vikki Quocksister, president of the Yukon Federation of Labour
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour
Mary Lou Cherwaty, president of Northern Territories Federation of Labour
Sid Ryan, president of Ontario Federation of Labour
Gil McGowan, president of Alberta Federation of Labour
Larry Hubich, president of Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Kevin Rebeck, president of Manitoba Federation of Labour
Patrick Colford, president of New Brunswick Federation of Labour
Carl Pursey, president of the PEI Federation of Labour
Jim Sinclair, president of BC Federation of Labour
missing: Rick Clarke, President Nova Scotia Federation of Labour