Laval, QC, March 18, 2020 – Teamsters Canada believes more will be needed to help workers through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are relieved to hear the prime minister say this response is just a start. COVID-19 has far from peaked in Canada and things are likely going to get much worse before they get better,” said the national president of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte.
Before the crisis hit, half of Canadians were reported to be living paycheck to paycheck and were $200 or less away from not being able to pay their bills. Today’s measures will help infected workers and those who have to care for sick family members. However, they do little for healthy individuals whose paychecks have been otherwise affected by the pandemic.
Other countries are doing more or planning on doing more. While today’s measures are worth 3% of Canada’s GDP, Spain has unveiled a plan worth 15% of its GDP. In the United States, the Trump administration supports a $1 trillion stimulus plan.
“We are seeing proof that our social safety net is not adapted to major crises. Once this is all over, the government will need to undertake a thorough review in view of making the system more robust and responsive,” added Laporte.
Much more needs to be done for transportation workers
Teamsters Canada is the country’s supply chain union, representing workers in airports and in the trucking and rail sectors.
To date, the federal government has not consulted with the union on how to protect transportation workers. No federal safety guidelines have been made available to protect truck drivers, who need to travel to the United States and across the country to keep Canadians supplied.
“Every store in the country depends on deliveries from truck drivers. If we fail to protect truckers from the virus, our country’s supply chain will collapse and we won’t be able to get food and other essential goods to Canadians.” warned Laporte. “Our union stands ready to help in any way possible.”
Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.