Letter to Minister Freeland on Canada's Affordability Crisis

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Canadian money spread on a surface

The Honourable Minister Freeland, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance

Dear Minister Freeland,
                                                                     Re: Canada’s Affordability Crisis

I followed with great interest the details of your remarks to the Empire Club on June 16, regarding rising inflation and the affordability crisis that afflicts many working families in Canada.

Our union commends the variety of affordability programs and policies introduced by the federal government in recent years, including the ground-breaking child care program and housing supports. This also includes joint commitments made with the federal NDP, including dental care. We wholly agree with your assessment that recent-term consumer price inflation is not a Canadian-specific phenomenon (as some Opposition critics charge), nor are cost spikes a result of the temporary federal income support measures provided to workers and businesses in the depths of the COVID-led recession.  The fact is, the crisis in affordability for critical goods like shelter, prescription medication and family care, pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic and has been mounting for decades – fueled by anemic wage growth, job insecurity and fiscal imprudence.

It was encouraging to hear in your remarks that the federal government will not kowtow to conservative calls for a punishing, slash-and-burn approach to this crisis. Calls for tax cuts, alone, will only further bloat already record-high corporate profits, while providing nothing but a temporary reprieve to hard-up working people. Demanding that Canada divert well-established efforts to reduce carbon emissions to alleviate cost pressures lacks strategy, vision and is the absolute worst brand of short-term political thinking.

Nevertheless, our union believes there are additional tools, complementary to those already undertaken, that governments must consider to help address the affordability crisis and the obvious “profit-price” spiral that is a defining feature in this particular inflationary period. Despite the many aspects of present-day inflation attributed to factors outside of government’s control there are actions that your ministry can take.

Attached you will find a set of near, medium and long-range proposals to improve affordability and tamp down rising prices, including new caps on corporate profits margins, efforts to deter consumer price gouging, strong inflation-guards to protect workers’ wages against rising prices and commitments to invest in affordable public and health services for Canadians.

Unifor will relentlessly pursue efforts, including at the bargaining table, to ease this mounting price pressure on our members. We firmly believe that investing in an affordable economy, not redistributing public funds into corporate coffers, is the most effective way to improve the standard of living for workers.

I look forward to a positive response.    


Lana Payne
National Secretary-Treasurer