Corporate Canada has an interest in maintaining a “reasonable” level of unemployment. Full employment would foster conditions that favour increased wages for all workers – organised or not. A massive program of public works (not contracted-out, non-union, Liberal cronyism-type projects) is urgently needed. The benefits of robotization and new technologies generally should be shared, not utilized to drive more workers into poverty. The NDP should fight for a reduction in the work week without a loss in pay or benefits.
Scandinavia is moving in that direction. Proposals for Guaranteed Annual or Basic Income are attracting attention. Is there a danger that neoliberal governments would use that as a cover for sub-poverty payments and cuts to social service jobs and programmes? Should the NDP focus, instead, as many anti-poverty groups say, on raising welfare, on hiking subsidized housing allowances and disability rates? Employment Insurance, which is inaccessible to two-thirds of the workers who need it, must be boosted immediately in terms of eligible weeks of coverage, and by lowering the qualification period, and raising the benefits amount paid.
The mistreatment of migrant workers is a scandal. Enforcement of labour standards, including proper health and safety on the job, decent wages, and full pay issued on time, is a priority.