No To Corporate Bailouts!
While 1 million people applied for EI last week, and millions more worried they couldn’t pay the rent next week, Parliament passed Bill C-13 to provide $2,000 a month for a maximum 4 months to those ineligible for Employment Insurance. Along with increases in the Child Benefit and payment deferrals for income tax and student loans, this is what workers will get from the Trudeau government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit, but not until mid-April when payments will begin to flow.
In Canada’s big cities, that won’t even cover the rent on a one-bedroom apartment, let alone groceries or utilities.
For those lucky enough to still qualify for EI, the wait-time has been cut, but the benefits remain at just 55% of previous earnings. Not enough to live on for long, either.
With so little to carry millions of Canadians for so short a time, this is a bailout that will strip working people of their jobs, their homes and their savings in a very short time. Years of government austerity policies and unlimited corporate greed have brought on a global recession that could easily morph into a full-fledged Depression. That’s the real reason the Liberals tried – in the original draft of their bailout package – to give themselves unlimited taxing and spending powers for an unprecedented 21 months. That’s how long they think this crisis is going to last, and how much money they think they’ll need to bailout their corporate friends. The system is overwhelmed by capitalist crisis.
It’s public knowledge that the oil and gas companies are demanding a $15 billion bailout from the Liberals. This must be opposed and defeated. Instead those funds must be used to support workers’ incomes, and oil and gas production must give way to the development of publicly owned renewable energy.
With mass layoffs and shutdowns continuing, the situation will only get worse. Much worse.
The government’s $107 billion bailout package includes $55 billion in deferred taxes, the largest part deferred corporate taxes. The $52 billion in direct payments includes payments to the large national and transnational corporations “too big to fail”. Workers, farmers, fishers, and small businesses will get the inadequate leavings. This is capitalist trickle down economics: “what’s good for business is good for workers”.
Working people can’t afford another capitalist bailout that puts corporate profits before people’s needs, and leaves millions of people on the margins, stripped of their jobs, their homes and their savings.
Bill C-13 gives the Finance Minister and the government unprecedented and virtually unlimited spending powers for the next 6 months. It also gives the government the power to alter Employment Insurance. The government must act to put people before profits – to put people’s needs ahead of corporate greed.
The government must use its spending powers to support working people across the country with much larger income supports, and for the duration of the crisis.
This should include:
- Expand EI to include all unemployed workers, insured and uninsured, full-time, part-time, contract and GIG workers, as well as first time job seekers. Make EI accessible immediately and for the full duration of unemployment, at 90% of previous earnings, or at 90% of an annual livable income
- Introduce a guaranteed annual livable income to put a floor under all Canadian residents
- Protect workers in healthcare, long-term care and other emergency services with the provision of emergency childcare services
- Introduce plant closure legislation to stop unjustified runaways, closures and layoffs
- Enforce the right of all workers – organized and unorganized – to refuse unsafe work
- Enforce COVID-19 health advisories in workplaces, with penalties for employers who violate the advisories; set-up hotlines to report employer violations
- Loans to businesses must not be the publicly-funded corporate bail-outs of the 2008-09 economic meltdown. Public funding must buy public equity (a public share of the business), or public ownership where it is in the public interest to do so (e.g. energy, banking, transportation)
- No bail-out of the oil and gas industry. It’s time to transition to publicly-owned and democratically controlled renewable energy, and to guarantee the jobs and wages of workers displaced in the transition
- Make the Bank of Canada the prime lending institution for public procurement and investment in public services and capital spending
- Ban evictions, renovictions, foreclosures, and utility cut-offs
- Cancel rents during the pandemic, no rent subsidies to corporate landlords
- House the homeless with emergency, interim, and permanent social housing
- Provide emergency housing on reserves, and in Northern and isolated communities
- Defer personal debt, including mortgages and loans – stop accumulating interest on principal
- Eliminate student debt. Free education for all
- Cancel credit card debt
- Ban hoarding and profiteering and introduce price controls on food, and other essentials
- Support development of a vaccine that is publicly owned with global open source access, and use the Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant (IFNrec) drug developed by Cuba and China that is saving millions of lives. International cooperation saves lives.
- Convert Canada’s $25 billion military budget to civilian spending for public healthcare, hospitals, beds, staff and equipment, medical research, testing for COVID-19, and for protection of workers’ jobs, wages and incomes, the sick, the elderly, and the poor
- Nationalize the pharmaceutical industry, and medical supplies and equipment
- Withdraw from NATO and NORAD and cancel the 2% of Canada’s GDP slated to fund NATO
- Act on the United Nations General Secretary’s call to end wars, and fund the fight to defeat COVID-19 and the new global pandemics still to come
Civil, Labour and Democratic Rights
The directives of scientists and medical personnel to practice social distancing and self isolation must be followed to plank the curve of this deadly virus. But curtailing civil, labour and democratic rights will not stop the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases and future pandemics. Urgent and sustained funding – and expansion – of Canada’s public Medicare system will make a difference, together with economic action to raise the wages and living standards of all Canadians and working people around the globe. Increased funding for science, for education – including free post-secondary education, for free universal public childcare, and to eliminate poverty and insecurity in Canada and around the world are the big measures needed to defeat pandemics, now and in the future.
In Canada, the Emergencies Act was enacted to replace the War Measures Act, used to eliminate the civil, labour, and democratic rights of all Canadians when it was used in the past.
- Oppose use of the Emergencies Act to enforce health advisories, or curtail civil, labour and democratic rights in Canada.
- Expand public messaging to reach all age groups and communities, and enlist the help of labour and social movements to drive home this vital health and safety message
A People’s Recovery
A People’s Recovery means the government must adopt a full employment strategy to create good jobs and increased wages, pensions, and incomes for all. It means rising living standards, not falling living standards. It must include an environmentally sustainable industrial strategy to create value-added manufacturing jobs, build a public transportation system that’s focussed on free public transit and rail, an energy policy that builds on renewable energy, guarantees jobs and wages to workers displaced in the shift from unsustainable to sustainable energy, and that recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent over development on their lands. We need a recovery that includes building a million units of social housing across the country, expansion of Medicare to include pharmacare, long-term care, dental, vision, and mental health care. We need free post-secondary education, the expansion of social programs including a universal system of quality, public childcare. And we need a recovery that includes real action to stop climate change, and to end Canada’s drive to militarism, regime change, and war. Instead the massive expenditures on war must be re-directed to fund a People’s Recovery and a people’s agenda for Canada.
To win this agenda will take a united struggle of the labour and people’s movements across the country. Mass, united, independent political action by labour and its allies is vital to stop corporations and their governments from down-loading the costs of the coming economic crisis onto the backs of workers.
Increasingly capitalism is being exposed as a political system incapable of meeting the needs of working people, of the vast majority of humanity, while socialism is coming to the forefront as the only political system that can. The example of socialist Cuba, a small country of 10 million people, which is raising living standards and meeting the needs of its peoples while contributing doctors, medicines, and aid to countries around the world, despite almost 60 years of a virulent US economic blockade, is a shining light to millions of people around the world. Likewise, socialist Vietnam, Laos, China, and DPRK, which have battled and won the fight against COVID -19 and are working with governments and peoples around the world to help save lives and eradicate this global pandemic. These actions of the socialist states stand in sharp contrast to those of US President Trump who has denied the pandemic’s impact and who is willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of elderly, sick, and uninsured US citizens, as well as the lives of millions of others, in the insatiable drive for profits.
The contrast between capitalism and socialism has never been so clear.
Central Executive Committee
Communist Party of Canada
March 26, 2020