Federal government to legislate $82bn aid package
The federal government announced a $82 billion aid package as a temporary measure to provide relief to businesses and workers, as Canada reacts to unprecedented job losses. The package includes $55 billion in tax deferrals for businesses alongside direct payments of $27 billion. The latter includes $10 billion for an emergency child care benefit program and a $5 billion fund for workers who are ineligible for employment insurance. The government has reported a staggering 500,000 Employment Insurance claims this week.
How are Amazon workers coping with surging orders?
Amazon is delivering more packages than usual as demand for online orders goes up, but a report in the Toronto Star reveals the negative implications for the company’s warehouse workers in the Greater Toronto Area. Amazon employees are dealing with the physical challenge of social distancing at work, longer hours, limited access to paid sick time and confusion over eligibility criteria of the paid quarantine leave.
Cities across Canada implement free transit to curb COVID-19
You can’t pay while staying six feet away. So cities across Canada are implementing free public transit and back door boarding to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of COVID-19, Emily Leedham reports for Rankandfile.ca.
Although cities have stopped charging fares as a temporary measure, Leedham’s reporting explores the importance of free transit not just now but in a post-pandemic world.
Teachers’ collective agreements suspended in Quebec
Public school teachers in Quebec have had their collective agreements suspended by the Quebec government. Teachers have been informed that their assignments and schedules may be modified as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sonia Ethier, president of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), spoke out against the arbitrary and unexpected decree, which she said was not based on consultation.
Should Canada Post be mailing flyers during a pandemic?
CBC chronicles the working conditions of a mail carrier whose inability to socially distance himself and prevent the spread of germs raises questions about the organization of work during the pandemic. One of those questions is, why are postal workers carrying flyers around? Whose interests does it serve to mail business flyers in a pandemic?
Work refusals span numerous essential services
Health and safety work refusals and walkouts are spreading around the country. On Saturday March 21, reports included Barrie, Ontario transit workers initiating a work refusal over changes to safety precautions. Nurses in Edmonton have refused to administer COVID-19 test swabs because of employer failures to provide N95 masks. Failures by employers to provide hand sanitizer and washing stations as required by law, has led to walkouts by BC tradespeople. Over the past two weeks, the auto industry across North America has been walloped by waves of walkouts, including at the non-union Toyota plants in Cambridge and Woodstock.
Temporary foreign workers to be allowed into Canada
The federal government reassured businesses in the agricultural sector that temporary foreign workers (TFW) would be allowed into the country, after initially suggesting that only permanent residents would be permitted. Although the government says that the workers – who are critical to food production in Canada – will need to self-isolate for 14 days, the Toronto Star questions if they can adequately practice social distancing given their cramped living conditions.
Home care workers face new health risks and financial hardships
Ontario’s home care workers are facing health and safety risks as they travel for several hours and visit multiple clients a day without enough personal protective equipment, Rankandfile.ca reports. The province’s home care sector is underfunded and largely privatized, where workers are precarious, underpaid and mostly not unionized.
Employers decisions put workers at risk
After initially contravening the advice of public health officials and telling its employees that they needed to get sick notes if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the grocery chain Metro backtracked in reaction to reporting by PressProgress. But earlier in the month, fast-food lobby group Restaurants Canada had said workers could continue to work if they were coughing or had runny noses. EB Games neglected the concerns of its employees as it went ahead with a game launch in its stores in Toronto, even as Ontario declared a state of emergency earlier in the week. Meanwhile, TD Bank’s call centre employees raised concerns about their workplace being a “breeding ground” for COVID-19.
How important are grocery store workers?
The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) has negotiated a $2 hourly wage increase for its workers in Loblaw-owned stores across Canada. The wage enhancement is in the form of “hazard pay,” acknowledging the risks of encountering hundreds of customers in the workplace.
In the past, Loblaw has advocated against raising the minimum wage, even as its executives earn millions of dollars a year. Like other retail workers, grocery store employees are part of the low-wage grind in Canada. But even as society scales back on business activity, grocery stores remain one of the few essential services that remain open through the pandemic. This has led to a surge in demand and a subsequent shortage of workers.