The Good Jobs Summit made its official debut with a multi-generational panel on the state of work, and ideas to improve the jobs market, on August 22.
The panel took place at the People’s Social Forum in Ottawa, a weekend event with nearly 500 workshops and assemblies. The actual Good Jobs Summit will take place October 3-5 in Toronto, at Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) and taking on issues like youth underemployment, green jobs and how to create quality employment opportunities now and in the future.
The panel featured Jessica McCormick, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students; Francois Arsenault, chairperson of the Unifor Quebec youth committee; Roxanne Dubois, Unifor community chapters co-ordinator and Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
McCormick spoke about how not only are high tuition costs are causing difficulty for students and their families through-out their schooling, but the soaring debt levels that they face also shape their economic choices post-graduation. She said that as a result of having to immediately start paying off debt, students move into lower wage, lower skill jobs, with deteriorating conditions. “If retail jobs are actually the new [skilled] trades, let’s make them good jobs,” said McCormick to loud applause.
Arsenault spoke about the need for stronger intergenerational solidarity and how young workers are being squeezed by the changes in the job market, at a time when they are trying to establish themselves, raise young families. We should use the student movement as a model of solidarity, he said.
Dubois explained the model of union’s community chapter structure and how the basis of it is what workers or like-minded individuals can accomplish when working together.
Dias talked about how government and industry has tried to lower our collective expectations of what’s possible – in favour of employers. Globalization, deregulation, privatization, it’s all about conditioning people to accept less. “Good Jobs are a choice – as a society, we can choose to build them,” said Dias.
For more information or to register visit: Good Jobs Summit.