North 99 Newsletter for July 20, 2020

Greetings, everyone. From time to time we’ll be adding information to the CUPE Local 46 website that you may find relevant. This post comes to us from North99.

If you enjoy this content, please consider visiting their website at: North99.

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Last week’s 49th Parallel newsletter was delayed until today. It’s a big one so we hope you’ll enjoy it!

Before we get to the newsletter, I wanted to share some important updates.

First, I encourage you to check out a recent story by our team about how Doug Ford is treating nurses titled “Doug Ford is Repaying Health Workers by Stabbing Them in The Back”. It’s of concern not just to Ontarians, but to anyone who cares about our front-line workers.

Secondly, we’ve launched a campaign demanding the government stand up to Trump and Big Pharma by making a drug stockpiled by Trump more available. Trump has bought up the entire supply, but the Canadian government can make it more available right now. Sign the petition right now to demand the government stand up to Trump and Big Pharma. 

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to the thousands of North99 community members who petitioned the federal and provincial governments to adopt 10 days of paid sick leave.

The federal government announced they plan to bring in paid sick leave for COVID-19 as part of their recovery funding, a program pushed by provinces like BC and Manitoba. Holdouts like Ontarian have now signed-on. It’s not perfect, and there’s still work to, but it’s a small victory that our community should be proud of.

Now enjoy this week’s 49th Parallel newsletter.

Sincerely,

Geoff, North99 Co-Founder


News This Week

Grocery store execs shared emails about cutting pandemic pay, but deny collusion.

Owners of Canada’s three largest grocery stores deny any kind of “collusion” in cutting pandemic pay for workers, even though all three cancelled the $2 per hour top-up together on the same day. The executives said their decision to cut the pandemic pay was because things are steadily returning to normal. However, emails were exchanged between the three companies indicating each other’s plans. While essential workers continued to work in risky conditions at the height of the pandemic and lockdown, grocery stores and their executive leaders became richer from the safety of their homes. 

Alberta’s recovery plan will do little for women facing a “she-cession.”

The pandemic has been particularly hard on women as the female-dominated sector of service and retail have been most economically affected. Slowly economies across Canada are opening up to a “new normal” and releasing recovery plans to assuage the anxieties of people of what working and living with a pandemic will look like. But Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney’s economic recovery plan largely omitted a gendered approach to rebuilding in a way that would support the most vulnerable.

Canada earmarks $16 billion to support the oil and gas compared to $300 million for clean energy.

Despite Canada’s commitment to the Paris Accord and the fact that it produces the most carbon intensive oil in the world, the federal government has allocated $16 billion to support oil and gas, compared to only $300 million for renewable energy. In 2017, Canada’s clean energy sector accounted for 3% of the GDP and 2% of jobs, and support from the government will determine the success of this sector post-Covid-19.

 Conservative leadership candidate proposes mandatory ultrasound before abortion.

Derek Sloan, a candidate to replace Andrew Scheer in the Conservative party’s upcoming leadership election, has proposed a mandatory ultrasound for women who want an abortion. Sloan’s “12 Point Pro-life Plan” would force women to have an “ultrasound prior to abortion”, included as the eighth point. Across the border in America, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas banned abortion altogether during the pandemic, calling it non-essential surgical procedures.

 Canada needs to bring compulsory licensing back on the table

Donald Trump and the US have bought up a drug called Remdesirvir that can potentially quicken the recovery time from Covid-19. Currently Gilead is the only supplier of remdesivir. Canada’s ability to allow other companies to make remdesivir under the compulsory license, however, expires at the end of September. So, the pandemic has reminded Canadian health officials of the need to put compulsory licensing back on the tableSign the petition demanding the government stand up to Trump and Big Pharma


Opinions

Ford government’s COVID-19 recovery plan hints at return to austerity.

After reading Ontario’s Progressive Conservative’s massive 188-page omnibus bill for the province’s recovery, we believe it might take us back to old economically Conservative austerity measures. For example, the plan hints at ‘cutting red-tape’ for businesses, which in the past has resulted in reduced oversight under the Ford government.

Unemployment is a tool for the ruling class to crush worker power.

At the peak of the pandemic, Canada was experiencing its highest levels of unemployment in 70 years. Low unemployment benefits workers (not only is it easier to find a job, but the more people employed, the more bargaining power they have for wages and benefits), while the opposite is true for businesses. The author argues that unemployment is also a kind of a class struggle, and so a federal recovery plan should put worker’s first by giving income and benefit support to workers, thereby pressuring businesses to improve their offers.

Alberta’s Rural crime motion will empower extremist militias.

Across Canada, there have been growing calls to defund the police to protect Black and Indigenous lives, who are more likely to be shot and killed in a police interaction, than white people. In Alberta, however, UCP MLA Todd Loewen’s motion would go the opposite direction by establishing a voluntary civilian corps to assist law enforcement in Alberta. The author argues this could be a dangerous slippery slope in giving Alberta’s various militia organizations more power to police their communities.

We should never return to our pre-pandemic consumerism.

Three months of lockdown have shown us that it is possible to change our consumption habits. According to the author, we should prioritize sustainability through slower, more considered and ethical consumption, rather than returning to our pre-pandemic consumption levels.


Policy Corner

A wealth tax to help Canada’s economic recovery

Income inequality in Canada is widespread. The bottom 40% of Canadians own 1.1% of total wealth, in comparison to the 5.64% of wealth held by only 0.01% of Canadian families. A wealth tax is becoming increasingly important for an economy and country that works for everybody and not just for the wealthy few.

Keeping people housed during the recovery

A new bill in Ontario may make it easier for landlords to bypass the Landlord and Tenant Board and evict tenants. CERB made it easier for millions of tenants in Canada to pay rent, but the real challenge starts when federal aid will eventually end. We can learn from Manitoba’s successful Rent Assist program that makes housing affordable by allowing no more than 30% of one’s income to be paid for housing.

Putting women, particularly diverse and marginalized women at the centre of recovery

The economic crisis as a result of the pandemic has hit women particularly hard. Female-dominated sectors of retail and service have been the hardest hit sectors, and even as the economy opens up, women’s unemployment levels persist, whereas men are slowly returning to the workforce. As Canada prepares for an economic recovery, putting women front and center will be necessary to ensure women’s progress in the workplace doesn’t suffer a setback.