4 August, 2020

Media advisory: No to pandemic austerity for poor and working people in response to ballooning deficit

WHAT: Community groups and unions hold joint press conference to warn against deficit burden being placed on most vulnerable 

WHEN: Wednesday, August 5th, 11am

WHERE: Casa del Popolo (back terrace), 4873 St. Laurent, Montréal, Quebec

Speakers :

Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Thibault Camara, Le Québec c’est nous aussi.

Manuel Salamanca Cardona, Immigrant Workers Centre.

Dolores Chew, South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC).

Alexandre Rochette Legros, Courage Coalition, Montréal chapter. 

Nakuset, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.

Media contacts :

Stefan Christoff, Courage coalition 438-936-1948

Manuel Salamanca Cardona, Immigrant Workers Centre, 514-267-5770

As the Federal Liberal government announced a $343B deficit for 2020, community organizations, labour unions and social activists are stating loud and clear that the bulk of responsibility for this economic imbalance must not be placed on poor and working people who are already disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and longstanding free market economic policies. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations have continued to serve people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Although many mainstream reports about the deficit focus on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the wage subsidy program for businesses, less discussed is the $750 billion that Ottawa gave to the banking sector as a bailout this year. Such reports also neglect to mention the extreme, pre-existing wealth inequalities within Canada, where wealth inequality has been steadily growing since the 1990s.

A 2019 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives outlined how income inequality in Canada grows when racial inequality is taken into consideration. Based on figures from the 2016 Census, it shows that racialized women earn 59 cents for each dollar earned by non-racialized men, while racialized men earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. Given such findings, community groups and organizations serving communities who live the inequities outlined in this study, and community members themselves must be supported rather than placed at the centre of any austerity framed response to budgetary deficits. 

Meanwhile, even the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has publicly estimated that wealthy Canadians are hiding at least $25 billion from taxation in offshore tax havens, and the Liberals have done nothing serious to recover these funds. 

The Liberal Government’s cosy relationship with Bay Street financial institutions must not form the guidelines for economic policy to tackle the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the dignity and lives of working people and the poor must be the focus of economic policy. 

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