Leaders Should Focus Economic Concern on the Workers who make Bay Street's Suits, Serve its Food and Depend on its Stable Markets for their Jobs and Pensions

    Canada's Low-Wage Workers Feeling the Pain of Economic Crisis and Pain of
    Political Inaction, Says National Co-Director of UNITE HERE

    TORONTO, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - Canada and its political leaders needed to
outline clear and decisive plans to address the market melt-down in the US if
they wanted to earn the votes of low-wage Canadians, says Alex Dagg, National
Co-Director of UNITE HERE.
    "This market instability in the US represents potentially revolutionary
change in our economy, impacting everyone in Canada, from Bay Street tycoons
to the garment workers who make their suits and the foodservice workers who
serve their lunch," says Dagg. "Bankers and brokers are getting the attention
but lower-waged workers are deeply concerned about what this means for their
pensions, their jobs and their mortgages. The political leaders needed to
address those concerns tonight."
    Dagg thought specifically that:

    -   None of the leaders were willing to confront the harsh reality that
        Canada might well have to run budget deficits to weather this once in
        a generation economic crisis.
    -   Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe's reference to the Buy Canada
        Act, making sure uniforms worn by federal government workers are made
        in Canada, is exactly the kind of legislation garment workers need to
        slow down the massive job loss in the apparel and textile industry.
    -   NDP Leader Jack Layton's plan for action on manufacturing job loss
        and his clear articulation that the creation of low-wage service
        sector jobs are not a sustainable labour market solution for that job
        loss, showed he clearly understood the urgency of the economic
        problems confronting the nation and its workforce.
    -   Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's pledge to do everything possible to
        save the Canadian manufacturing sector was important for thousands of
        workers who are worried the market crisis in the US will further
        damage Canada's most important export market.
    -   Prime Minister Stephen Harper's statement that when "a job is lost,
        it's unlikely to come back" shows he is abandoning our manufacturing
        sector, its workers and their families. His continued insistence that
        the fundamentals of our economy are strong missed the reality faced
        by too many Canadian workers.

    "I can assure you that laid off garment workers in Montreal are
incredulous that the Prime Minister is insisting the fundamentals of the
economy are strong while telling them their jobs are gone forever," said Dagg.
"They are living day to day with the ramifications of severe job loss in the
manufacturing sector. They are confronting bills that can't be paid as
Canadians carry record high levels of personal debt. They are wondering how
the billions of dollars lost in pension plans in the last few months will
impact their ability to survive in retirement."

    UNITE HERE is the union representing 50,000 foodservice, apparel,
textile, hotel and distribution workers across Canada. Its membership is the
face of multi-cultural Canada, with immigrants and women making up the
majority of its members.

For further information:

For further information: Wynne Hartviksen at (416) 473-2632

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