TORONTO, June 3, 2015 /CNW/ - In the face of continued weakness in Canada's employment outlook, a unique roundtable of labour, business, student and community leaders says Canada must use its rich resources to create good jobs by producing value-added products and services.
"Young people need good jobs, so they can build decent lives," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who chaired the first meeting of the Good Jobs Roundtable in Toronto yesterday. "Thanks to the unique group of economic leaders assembled at this Roundtable, we are identifying concrete, pragmatic ways Canada can do this."
The group reviewed several projects across Canada where good job opportunities have been created thanks to training, investment, cross-sector partnerships, and a commitment to add value to Canada's natural resources. Pro-active strategies to open up these opportunities for traditionally excluded Canadians (including women, aboriginal communities, racialized workers, and workers with disabilities) must also be a central feature of any successful good jobs initiative.
Examples of projects reviewed by the Roundtable include a unique initiative by Irving Shipyards to recruit women for upcoming skilled trades opportunities; a series of investments by the Fonds de Solidarité to support manufacturing of value-added wood products in Québec; a partnership between WWF Canada and fisheries workers in Newfoundland to rebuild a sustainable cod fishery; and CP Rail's new investments in facilities in Winnipeg that will "insource" railway maintenance work.
The group agreed that while such projects make important contributions to strengthening Canada's labour market, the economy needs complementary public policy measures (in areas such as training, capital investment, and support for value-added manufacturing) to make the most of the opportunities provided by Canada's human and natural resources.
The Good Jobs Roundtable was established last October as an outcome of the Good Jobs Summit, organized by Unifor, Ryerson University, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The Summit brought together 1,000 delegates from unions, universities and colleges, business, and government to discuss strategies for job creation, and what constitutes a good job.
Members of the Roundtable include Unifor National President Jerry Dias; J.D. Irving Ltd. Co-CEO Jim Irving; CUPE President Paul Moist; CP Rail Vice-President of Human Resources Peter Edwards; WWF Canada President David Miller; Canadian Federation of Students Chairperson Jessica McCormick; VanCity Vice-President of Community Investment Andy Broderick; Metro Vancouver Lead Organizer Deborah Littman; Fonds de Solidarité (FTQ) Vice-President of Public and Corporate Affairs Mario Tremblay; Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day; and KAIROS Executive Director Jennifer Henry. Yesterday's meeting was the Roundtable's first face-to-face gathering.
"We are each doing what we can to create and sustain good jobs, but with a few policy changes we could do so much more," Dias said.
The group identified two key policy areas to focus on in its initial work:
- Defining and promoting a renewed and more effective federal role in training and labour market information; and
- Strategies to support value-added activities (through "upstream" supply industries and "downstream" processing and manufacturing) tied to resource production.
Roundtable members committed to continue developing both priorities, and to presenting their ideas to federal and provincial leaders – including at the meeting of provincial premiers in Newfoundland in July.
WWF Canada President David Miller stressed there is broad public support for tying government policy to the creation of good jobs. As former mayor of Toronto, Miller spearheaded a push to have the city's new subway and streetcars made in Canada.
CUPE President Paul Moist added that any job creation strategy must address the "historic exclusion of this country's aboriginal peoples."
For further information: For more information on the Good Jobs Roundtable please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.