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.
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Welcome to this week’s edition of 49th Parallel, North99’s weekly newsletter covering Canadian politics.
Before we get to this week’s newsletter, I want to share two stories written by our amazing team here at North99.
Our team member Kian wrote a scathing article about Ford’s travels across the province. It turns out many of the stops and government promotional videos feature Ontario PC Party donors! To get these stories delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to Ontario Majority, a weekly newsletter covering Ontario politics.
Our other team member Shreya explains how Jason Kenney is doubling down on the failing oil and gas industry with a potential $30 billion petrochemical handout. You can read the story here and make sure to subscribe to Out West, our weekly newsletter covering Jason Kenney and Alberta politics.
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Thank you and enjoy this week’s newsletter.
Geoff, North99 Co-Founder
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News This Week
Ford has a plan for re-opening bars, but not schools
Doug Ford’s government has drawn criticism from the public for hatching a plan for reopening bars, but not schools that are scheduled to resume full-time in September. There is currently no plan in place to ensure the safety of teachers and students. The lack of planning, however, is creating anxiety among parents about sending kids back to school in September. Returning children to school is voluntary for parents, but some argue that a flimsy plan will prove even more disastrous for women, who have been harder hit by the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
New poll finds that more than half of Canadians want a four-day workweek
According to a recent poll by Angus Reid, more than half of Canadians are ready for a four-day workweek. Support for this policy has risen by six-points from 2018, with 53% of those polled saying it would be a “good idea”. Even though people across all income levels support the idea, those at the lowest levels of income are more likely to support it at 64% of people, compared to 47% of people in the higher income bracket at around $150,000.
One-Third of Indigenous people in Canada are struggling to pay for essentials during the pandemic
Statistics Canada released a new report which highlights the pandemic affected the financial abilities of Indigenous people more than non-Indigenous folks. 36% of Indigenous people surveyed, compared to 25% of non-Indigenous, said Covid-19 had a “strong or moderate” effect on their ability to pay basic essentials such as food, rent, utilities, etc. Among those who lost their jobs or had hours reduced due to the pandemic, 65% said they felt financially vulnerable in comparison to 56% of non-Indigenous people in the same group.
New study confirms Covid-19 cases far more prevalent at for-profit long term care homes than non-profits
A recent study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at 623 long-term care homes in Ontario and found that more Covid-19 cases and deaths were reported in for-profit care homes, than non-profit ones. For-profit care homes had nearly twice the number of cases and deaths, with more than 80% of all Covid-19 deaths in Canada taking place in for-profit homes.
Canada commits to 10-day paid sick leave during Covid-19
Soon workers who don’t have access to paid sick leave will be eligible to take 10 days of sick leave if they have Covid-19 symptoms or are experiencing the virus. This is part of a new federally funded sick leave program as part of a “safe restart program” to get people back to work and restart the economy.
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At the height of the pandemic, frontline healthcare workers were labelled as essential, because they were risking their lives everyday to protect others. Doug Ford lauded them, but a recent bill by the Ontario government goes against all of the Premier’s praises. Bill 195 will strip healthcare workers of their vacation rights, leave of absence rights, seniority rights and health and safety rights. Our team member, Kian, discusses how Bill 195 is an erosion of important rights.
The author argues how the Conservative party in Alberta is dismantling the progress of workers’ rights under NDP rule through a new bill called, “Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act”. Bill 32 will weaken unions, by forcing them to provide financial statements, for example, and placing restrictions on strike actions. Another piece of legislation, Bill 1, can fine people up to $25,000 or six months imprisonment for those who are found blocking “critical infrastructure”.
The federal government announced The Large Employer Emergency Financial Facility to provide financial assistance to companies with yearly total revenue of more than $300 million. In order to qualify, corporations must limit stock buybacks, dividends and executive pay. However, the author argues, by excluding the use of tax havens as one of the requirements, the government has missed an opportune moment to get tough on corporate tax dodgers, instead letting them benefit from public money.
In Horizons, a newsletter about building a better future for all, Paris Marx talks about how cities were once regarded as communal public spaces, where children used to spill out on the streets to play. Over the years, reconstruction of urban centers has taken place through the lens of the social elite, with planning boards including corporate and political elite, and instead pushed people to the sidelines as cars have taken up the most space. However, the author says that as people retreat indoors more and more, funding for public spaces is reduced. Building a better world will involve reclaiming public spaces for all.
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Implementing paid sick days and sick leave. Everyone benefits when a sick worker is able to stay at home, lowering chances of spreading illness and disease. Recently the government committed to a federally funded paid sick days program for workers, who don’t already have those benefits, but paid leave needs to become a permanent fixture for all Canadians. Post the pandemic, such a policy will actually benefit employers the most.
Widespread testing of Covid-19 in public interest. Currently low levels of testing has created widespread isolation. More testing will increase public confidence, but, more importantly, also allow communities to reduce uncertainty and allow people to return to work. It will give confidence to reopening small businesses and daycares, allowing women to go back to work as quickly as their male counterparts.
More federal leadership needed for a just Covid-19 recovery. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the federal government needs to step up with more funding and investment for a more just, equitable and sustainable recovery. In its alternative recovery plan, it recommends a reformed unemployment insurance, universal and affordable childcare, addressing gender and racial income inequality and decarbonizing the economy.