Bruske: Canada’s unions pleased to see buoyancy in job market, but wages continue to lag behind inflation
OTTAWA––Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, made the following statement in response to the labour force data released by Statistics Canada today.
“Today’s labour force numbers indicate that the job growth we saw plateau in 2022 has once again picked up. We are glad to see relatively broad-based job growth. However, we question whether the quality of many of these jobs will allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living, such as higher mortgage costs in 2023 when the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes fully work their way through the system.”
Since inflation began to accelerate in 2021, average wage growth in Canada has consistently lagged behind CPI, forcing down real wages for many workers. Since November, year-over-year average wage growth has moderated more rapidly than inflation, falling to 4.5% in January.
“For every day that wages lag behind inflation, workers are falling further behind. The eye-watering cost of day-to-day necessities means workers and their families are struggling. Canada’s unions call on the federal government to take action to make life more affordable. Tackling excess profits and corporate price-gouging would be a good first step which would help keep money in workers’ pockets, and the government can also assist working-class households by injecting emergency funds into affordable housing and public services like health care, child care and pharmacare.”
Today’s numbers show that job growth was fastest in wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food services are among the fastest growing categories of jobs.
“In many of these sectors where we are seeing job growth, workers lack access to a union, paid sick leave, workplace benefits, training and promotion opportunities, and even basic protections under employment standards legislation. All governments need an agenda to strengthen job quality, workplace protections, and access to collective bargaining. Ottawa should seize the moment to extend open work permits to vulnerable migrant workers and to move forward with a broad regularization program for out-of-status workers.”
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