Canadian Labour Presidents call on Premiers to Strengthen Health Care Accord and Reject Harper Cuts

July 24, 2012

Halifax, N.S. – The presidents of the provincial and territorial Federations of Labour will meet in Halifax this week to coincide with the Canadian Provincial and Territorial Leaders’ Council of the Federation meeting.

The Federation Presidents want to ensure that the premiers and others attending the First Ministers meeting in Halifax this week get a clear message on a number of key issues, including:

  • the proposed Canada-EU trade deal (CETA),
  • Clean Energy,
  • strengthening of the Canada Health Accord,
  • as well as changes to Employment Insurance and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Rick Clarke says CETA will limit provincial and territorial powers, and give European corporations new rights at the expense of provincial powers. The trade deal with the EU includes areas of provincial power that have never been covered by international trade deals, including natural resources, drinking water treatment and delivery, and health care. “We will be urging Premier Dexter and his provincial and territorial counterparts to protect public services and provincial powers by withdrawing their support until all of CETA’s details have been disclosed and discussed,” said Clarke.

The Federation of Labour Presidents will also strategize around the dramatic cuts to EI, which will have a devastating impact on not only Atlantic Canada but other high unemployment regions in Canada. “As it stands now, over 60 per cent of unemployed Canadians don’t receive EI at all and now the Federal Conservatives have no plan to assist in job creation, but intends to give away billions in tax breaks to corporations – $13 billion this year alone – with no strings attached,” Clarke points out.

He added that all of this is only compounded by the recent federal budget which will put some 19,200 public servants out of work, a move that will hurt all Canadians. “As Federation of Labour Presidents we all face unique challenges in our provinces, but one thing we have in common is that we will pay the price as Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty cuts his way to a surplus in 2015. 

“On Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the plan to delay retirement benefits to those 67 or more will hit low-income Canadians the hardest and Nova Scotia will be one of the biggest losers under changes to health care cost-sharing from Ottawa that will punish provinces with older populations. Clarke and his counterparts will also contend with the Federal Govenrment’s blatantly obvious anti-worker sentiments as shown by their response to collective bargaining with Air Canada, Canada Post and CP Rail.

“As Labour Leaders, we will keep the pressure on the Federal Conservatives to stop slashing jobs and services as they hurry towards their unrealistic target of a 2015 surplus and we will urge the First Ministers to do the same.” Clarke said in conclusion.