The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit that was created to help the many people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be more lucrative for many people than the low paying jobs they were in.
The CERB payment was set at $2,000 a month. That is much more than many lower wage workers would have received on Employment Insurance. It is also more money than people collect on Ontario works, ODSP and Canada Pension. How does this make sense? Why only during a pandemic does the government realize that what they offer to people who are the most vulnerable in our society is not enough to survive?
Precarious work has been a major component in the workforce over the past decade. However, minimum wage has been well below what any person needs to survive. There are also other problems, like minimum hours, no benefits, pension, contract, and term work.
Many workers earning minimum wage were intrigued with the CERB because it gave them more than what they could make by doing their jobs. My workplace was deemed essential. Many full time and part time workers stayed home during the pandemic. This gave the lowest wage part time workers enough hours at work to collect more than the CERB for once in their working life.
Slowly, as we are coming out of this pandemic the focus has been on opening the economy. The government is being cautious on stopping the continual spread of COVID-19 and not having a second wave. The focus should be widened into opening an economy that is going to allow people and businesses to thrive. Growth should be the focus and the only way to grow is to look at what was not working prior to COVID-19 and what we learned during the pandemic.
We have learned that working people do not have enough money to pump back into the economy. People are in debt, people do not have good jobs to go to. The people who have the jobs that we all depend on aren’t paid enough.
It is important that the government keeps funding our public services. Health care, research, labs, ambulances, long term care, community services are all fundamental. Inspectors and policing of our services are crucial to assure systems are working.
Our food industry from farming, delivery and retail are essential, yet some of the lowest paid precarious workers have jobs in those industries.
COVID-19 and pandemic pay has taught us that we need to fight for is permanent pay increases for all workers. Putting money into the pockets of the workers helps the economy grow. The more we make the more we spend and the more tax we give back into our system that funds our government. Government needs to reinvest the money into our important public services that we all rely on.
Canada Pension, Employment insurance, ODSP and Ontario works all need to be re-evaluated for those who depend on those programs. Give people ways to survive and thrive no matter what their situation is. The better the people are doing, the better our economy will be.
Let’s keep up the fight against a government that takes from us but doesn’t give back.
Let’s shift our focus from demanding temporary pay increases to permanent increases that will make working worth it again!