Improve income security for unemployed workers, and help hard-hit communities by introducing a uniform national entrance requirement of 360 hours for Employment Insurance; raising benefits from 55% to 60% of previous earnings; and extending benefits to at least 50 weeks in all regions.
The Good Jobs for All Coalition is an alliance of forty community, labour, social justice, youth and environmental organizations in the Toronto region. Formed in June 2008, the Coalition’s goal is to develop strategies that affirm the values of a truly just society – healthy communities, a sustainable economy, strong public services, equity, and decent work for all. In November 2008, over one thousand Toronto citizens gathered in the historic summit to engage in a focused dialogue on policies and strategies needed to ensure there are good jobs for all in Canada’s largest urban centre.
Our Recommendations: A Green Economy to lift People out of Poverty
1. Improve income security for unemployed workers, and help hard-hit communities by introducing a uniform national entrance requirement of 360 hours for Employment Insurance; raising benefits from 55% to 60% of previous earnings; and extending benefits to at least 50 weeks in all regions.
2. Invest in a multi-year funding program to develop a comprehensive Green Job Strategy that will infuse the manufacturing base with a vision of creating a national and local environmentally sustainable economy. Such strategy will save and create jobs, including support for public infrastructure development, enhancing public transit system, energy conversation and renewable energy projects, and support for industrial restructuring.
3. Launch a major, multi-year investment program on social infrastructure that will simultaneously create new employment and lift people out of poverty. Such program will include
• support for a national childcare program,
• national housing scheme to increase affordable housing units where workers do not have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table;
• support for retraining for workers without jobs;
• support to enhance employment accessibility for workers from different equity seeking groups, particularly racialized workers, immigrant women, youth and new Canadians.
- The current recession has been a shocking blow on the economy of Ontario which accounts for 41% of Canada’s close to 2 million manufacturing jobs. The collapse has been translated into thousands of decent paying job losses in Ontario, and devastating impact in our workplaces, our communities, and the general well being of our city as a whole.
- The official unemployment rate in Toronto is at 10.1% ( HRSDC Sept 2009). The unemployment rate rose by 37% between July 2008 and 2009 ( from 7.7% to 10.7%)
- The youth unemployment rate in the region surpassed 20% in June 2009, up 5% in one year and 4% higher than the national rate (at 16%) (Toronto Vital Signs Report 2009)
- The average worker who replaces a lost manufacturing job with new work experiences 25% cut in income (Living Wage Report, 2008)
- 17.4% of Ontario jobs pay less than $10 or less an hour (Statistics Canada 2007)
- Recent immigrants are more than three times likely to have lost jobs in the economic downturn than their Canadian-born colleagues. The unemployment rate for recent immigrants is double that of Canadian-born. (Toronto’s Vital Signs Report, 2009)
- According to the United Way of Toronto Report Poverty by Postal Code, in Toronto they made up almost 60% of poor families in 2001. Between 1981 and 2000, while the poverty rate dropped by 28% for others, it jumped by 361% for members of racialized communities.
From our daily interactions with workers who are juggling multiple part-time jobs just to survive or workers without jobs, the economic crisis is far from over. In fact, people are anticipating a cold, harsh winter where many will exhaust their EI, be denied of any retraining opportunities as the province has tightened its retraining dollars, and face the inevitability of losing their homes. The federal stimulus package has yet to make a difference, a positive impact on people who have been bearing the brunt of the restructuring.
The economic crisis cannot be addressed separately from the environmental crisis that we are facing around the globe. We are fighting to make good jobs into green jobs and a green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
We urge you in your deliberation and final summation, to put the interest and priorities of vulnerable citizens who have been most devastated by this recession first.
Good Jobs for All Coalition – Coordinator Judy Vashti Persad