Raising Wages

Canada should:

  • Enshrine a federal national living wage into law. It will be set initially at $20/hour, to be achieved within 2 years, for all federal government bodies, Crown corporations, federally regulated industries and all corporations that do business with them. It will be indexed to inflation and reviewed periodically by the National Labour Commission. The adoption of a living wage by provincial governments, for employees not covered by the federal national living wage, will be encouraged by instituting federal transfers to the provinces for this purpose on the model of the health transfers through which uniformity in health care is achieved nationally.
  • Adopt legislation requiring all business entities to maintain a compensation ratio no greater than 10:1 between executives and employees.
  • Indigenous peoples suffer one of the highest unemployment rates. To address indigenous unemployment, Canada should:
    • Assist in developing the economy of indigenous nations sustainably, based on the mix between traditional means of livelihood and modern industry chosen by the indigenous community concerned.
    • Provide for urban indigenous people special programmes to facilitate their full participation in the economy through a combination of public and private initiatives, with indigenous representation on the governing boards thereof.
  • Amend federal bankruptcy legislation to give workers’ claims during bankruptcy, the highest priority among claims on the firm’s assets, including priority over preferred creditors.  
  • Initiate a transition from the present inequitable and far-from-universal patchwork of pensions to a radically reformed Canada Pensions Plan that includes every person above retirement age and reduces its reliance on socially and morally questionable financial and other investments, both in Canada and abroad. It is critical that this be done without raising workers’ contributions. Such a universal scheme will counter arguments against pensions that understandably arise from those without pensions. Universal pensions will be automatically transferable. We will set up a national commission to determine the Federal and provincial governments’ roles in them and to ensure equity and relative equality in pension payments.
  • Ensure legal safeguards to provide equal opportunities for all Canadians regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, religion or political persuasion. It must be illegal to discriminate.
  • Establish a commission to look into how to distribute work and its rewards more broadly by reducing working time without loss of access to a liveable income. This will serve to reduce unemployment, increase leisure for autonomous activity and continue the historic trend toward translating increases in productivity into reduction of labour time. This trend operated throughout the history of capitalism before being interrupted in recent decades.  We will encourage job-sharing.
  • For those not covered by the work and income measures proposed so far, we propose a guaranteed liveable income, operated through the tax system and income-tested. (We support current Green Party policy calling for a universal basic income for all. Research suggests, however, that while this should continue to be a long-term goal, our approach, which blends many measures, is more politically and economically feasible and is urgently needed as part of the pandemic recovery plan.)
  • Establish a national task force aimed at reducing the workweek and stress in workplaces.
  • Create a Labour Redeployment Commission to retrain and redeploy workers made redundant by technological and economic development or change. It should work in close cooperation with vocational or other post-secondary educational institutions.
  • Ensure that the Department of Labour acts as an advocate, guarantor and protector of workers’ rights where necessary against employers’ organizations and the rest of government.

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