Economic recovery needs quality public services, retirement security, adequate EI benefits.
With the federal budget being announced on March 4, three of Canada's largest public sector unions held a press conference on Parliament Hill to drive home their message that the country's social infrastructure needs to have its share of stimulus spending.
"If the recession has shown us anything, it is that Canadians need and expect more services from their national government, not less," said John Gordon, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), during a press conference on Parliament Hill. "They expect safe food and drugs, their environment protected, their military and veterans supported and their human rights enforced."
He added that the government must continue stimulus spending but should focus on social infrastructure such as expanding child and elder care, arguing that such spending would add considerably to Canada's GDP and government revenues for years to come.
"Workers did not cause the recession," Gordon said. "They should not continue to pay for it, either directly through job loss and inadequate EI benefits or indirectly through a reduction in the services and benefits delivered by public sector workers."
John Gordon of PSAC speaks to a Parliament Hill news conference: (PSAC YouTube video)
With what he feels is an ongoing misrepresentation of public sector pensions, Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), said: "These fallacies are being put forward by representatives of the business community who in no way represent the average Canadian. Unfortunately, they have received a great deal of coverage in the media recently. It's time to move away from the rhetoric, to give Canadians a more balanced view about their public service, and to present them with the facts about federal retirees' pensions and benefits."
Gordon also calls for retirement income security for all Canadians and reiterates his union's opposition to any attack against federal public-sector pension plans.
"Our members are mobilizing in support of retirement security and quality public services, both of which are vital to Canada's economic recovery – and worthy of government investment," he said.
The Canadian Labour Congress was also represented at the press conference and is tracking budget issues on their web site.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is one of Canada's largest unions representing more than 166,000 people, and also represents people who work abroad in embassies and consulates. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) represents some 57,000 professionals across Canada's public sector. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is the umbrella organization for dozens of affiliated Canadian and international unions, as well as provincial federations of labour and regional labour councils, representing more than three million affiliated workers.