Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The presidents of Canada's provincial Federations of Labour highlight how the provinces need to respond to the Harper Cons' efforts to push down wages and trample on workers' rightst:
Canadians need our country’s premiers to denounce this low-wage agenda and stand up for what is in the best interest of working people.

When the premiers meet this fall to discuss the economy, we believe the labour market ought to be front and centre in that discussion. They must denounce the exploitive expansion of the (temporary foreign worker program). They must collectively demand that Ottawa invest more in training to bridge the skills gap, so that unemployed Canadians can fill available jobs.

Premiers should also call for improvements to Canada’s EI program, as fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed Canadians are currently eligible for benefits. We need our premiers to challenge the notion that Canada must increase its retirement age to 67. What’s really needed is pension reform that will allow all Canadians to retire in dignity, such as improving and enhancing CPP. And finally, the premiers should recognize and defend the important role unions play in our society and our economy.
- Meanwhile, following up on yesterday's post, SGEU, CUPE, SUN, the Saskatchewan Building Trades and Rosalee Longmoore all provide their take on the employment and labour law review. And the Saskatchewan NDP plans to carry out real consultations where the Sask Party has fallen short.

- Pat Atkinson notes that Stephen Harper's absentee federalism is producing unintended consequences when it comes to the Gateway pipeline:
A common-sense approach would have had our PM meet with the 13 premiers to hammer out a Canadian energy strategy. And while Harper was at it, he also could have discussed the preservation and reform of medicare and equalization. Instead the premiers were left to grapple with these issues without federal input.

The "my way or the highway" attitude exhibited by Harper on these files, especially health care, underlines the weakness of his government's approach to federalism - attempting to govern Canada by strict adherence to the division of federal and provincial powers. This hasn't worked in the past. It promotes unilateralism, as witnessed by Clark's actions, and it ignores the reality of governing a modern day nation that's dealing with complex and important issues.

B.C.'s move should spur Harper to begin the dialogue of strengthening the unity of this nation through co-operative federalism - an old fashioned but still relevant idea.

The premiers, in the most diplomatic of terms, have invited the prime minister to their next meeting in November. Their message is clear: There are important public issues that will take both the federal and provincial governments to resolve.
- Finally, Heather Mallick reminds us that we should celebrate our legacy of universal health care.

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