Labour Day and a Wellbeing Economy

Labour Day and a Wellbeing Economy

Sep 5, 2022 -- 

Happy Labour Day, Canada!

We hope everyone is enjoying a leisure-filled day with family, friends, and the good food afforded by the harvest season.

Believe it or not, the history of labour day has deep Canadian roots. We can look back 140 years to the first instance of a Labour Day event, and it took place right here in Canada, sparking a worldwide movement!

Workers and unions have fought a hard and slow battle, over decades, to get us the rights we enjoy today. While we now benefit from things like the weekend, minimum wages and maternity leave, it is not the time to simply bask in the victories of the past. Worker exploitation is still a pervasive issue in our society. There is still more to do to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Burnout, mental health issues, union busting and low wages are still too common in Canada’s labour market. The march towards meaningful workers rights continues on.

Our campaign launch video turned heads for asking the question: “Can we not imagine a world beyond Capitalism?” We’d like to take the opportunity of Labour Day to explain some of what being ‘post Capitalist’ means to us, and how we see workers’ rights fitting in to the coming transition.

majority of the Canadian public already understands the flaws of our crumbling economic system, and wants reform. As leaders, we want to work proactively to build a sustainable foundation for the next era.

For us, a post-Capitalist economy means a Wellbeing Economy. And we believe Canadians are ready to support this vision.

Workers rights are core to creating the wellbeing economy, and we are big supporters of unions in asserting and expanding those worker rights. We also want to give a shout-out to the Green Party of Canada’s own staff union, who formed and negotiated their collective agreement in August of 2021!

Some of the next evolutions in workers rights, which we hope to advance as Leaders of the Green Party, include:

A livable minimum wage for all

  • Minimum wages have not kept pace with inflation: full-time workers on minimum wage are now earning less per month than they need to bring in, to pay the basic costs of living. We know that suppressed wages drive down the cost of goods on the backs of workers. We support the calls for a livable minimum wage, both federally and in all provinces, which automatically tracks to inflation every year.

Moving towards a 4 day work week

  • With advances in technology has come an expectation of increases in productivity. However, if the tools we use are so much more efficient, why are workers being called upon to work harder? Modernisation should make our lives easier, and less stressful, yet for the sake of productivity, we are still called upon to work 40+ hour weeks. It’s time to shift gears and update our work culture. Moving to a 4-day week, which many workers have begun to do, will free up more family time, more time to pursue our interests and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Less stress and more time to spend the money we earn on the things we love can only benefit our economy, and relieve stress on our health care system. It’s time to prioritize people over productivity.

10 paid sick days/year

  • We support the federal government’s move towards 10 paid sick days per year for federally-regulated private-sector workers. We advocate for expanding this same right to workers in all sectors of the economy, and support the efforts of our provincial Green counterparts to champion this shift in their respective provinces. When workers feel supported to stay home, instead of coming to work sick, they recover faster, and keep their co-workers safe. This is a good thing for businesses, for our healthcare system, and for workers themselves.

Just transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry

  • We owe it to workers in the fossil fuel industries to be honest: to meet the moral demands outlined by climate science, and to protect our agricultural sector, our infrastructure, and our communities, the fossil fuel industry must be phased out. 

    Economic transitions have happened before. When they are not anticipated and planned for, effects on workers, their families and communities can be disastrous – just ask Newfoundlanders about the collapse of the cod fishery. We must prepare for transition, and support fossil fuel workers, a majority of whom want to transition, by investing in re-training programs, offering wage insurance, and, for older workers, early retirement plans.

Permanent Residence & rights for Migrant Farm workers

  • Migrant workers sits at the intersection of many issues: the economics of agribusiness, immigration, racial justice, and economic justice. The current setup of the “Temporary Foreign Worker” (TFW) program is problematic: while most of the farms that use the TFW program are conscientious and treat their workers well, the door is open to horrendous abuse.

    As Greens, we believe that if you are accepted to work in Canada, you should be accepted to live here. Your family should be allowed to visit you, and you should be paid a living wage. You should also have full access to healthcare, and be able to change employers should you find that conditions of work are abusive. These are basic worker rights.

It is crucial that we begin the conversation around ways to adapt our economy and our labour market to move away from a model that worships productivity and profit, while harming people. If we are going to address the core ailments of our society, we need to be people and community focused. In this article we have shared part of our vision for a post-capitalist economy, but building the future will take input from us all. Share your ideas with us and let’s start building the Canada of tomorrow, today!

-- Chad Walcott & Anna Keenan

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