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Funding package for priorities to restart Canada’s economy reveal start of path for longer-term recovery

July 17, 2020 - 12:00 AM

July 17, 2020

TORONTO – The short-term federal funding package for provinces lays the groundwork for recovery, but still misses bigger picture economic needs, says Unifor.

“The federal government has come through with a first step for economic recovery, but it is just a start,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Now it’s up to Premiers and the federal government to continue this collaboration, make these changes permanent, and create a long-term plan that puts working families first.”

“Any form of aid is welcome in this sector, which has been largely underfunded for years, but the federal government must respect the Quebec government’s power to direct spending, especially for health care,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

The $19 billion package, confirmed on July 16, earmarks funding for critical programs related to provinces’ re-opening while addressing immediate healthcare needs. The areas of focus include:

  • Testing, contact tracing, and data management
  • Health care system capacity
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Municipalities
  • Personal protective equipment for health and non-health workers
  • Child care for returning workers
  • Pan-Canadian paid sick leave

Federal and provincial governments will be required to develop comprehensive recovery plans in the months and years ahead, that will improve upon these foundations and create investments in Canada’s public services, infrastructure, industrial capacity, and income support programs.

“The scale of this $19 billion stop-gap reveals just how far we had let our public health care system atrophy before the pandemic. Premier Ford should take this as the message it is: Ontario must make significant, lasting changes to improve care and safety in all aspects of our health care system,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

“I’m proud of how Canadians came together when faced with tragedy, but we can never be caught unprepared again. Workers returning to their jobs in a newly re-opened economy need to know that Premiers will take every step to ensure their safety now and in the future,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “That means improving labour law so that paid sick leave is accessible to all workers, not just during the worst of times.”

“The critical programs included in this week’s funding package are welcome steps to help provinces prepare for and prevent a damaging second wave. Now, Western Canada’s workers are watching Premiers’ responses carefully, to ensure that so-called recovery plans continue to echo our priorities instead of siphoning off more power and resources to wealthy corporations,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director.

Unifor released a detailed plan for economic recovery that puts workers first. Visit buildbackbetter.unifor.org to read the recommendations and download the Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or Zoom interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Marie-Andrée L'Heureux at marie-andree.lheureux@unifor.org or 514-916-7373 (cell).