Pre-Budget release: CAW Calls for Job Investments and Income Supports for Unemployed and Pensioners

March 3, 2010, 11:55 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling for job creation to be a central part of tomorrow's federal budget, especially in developing and promoting clean energy sources, greener infrastructure and manufacturing.

This budget needs to take major steps to better position the country and the economy to deal with climate change and its impact on jobs, said Lewenza. "Our country has an important opportunity to become a leader in green technology, which would deliver a badly needed economic boost. Instead though, as we saw during the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, our government is content to let the country stagnate and pull Canadians back when we want to move forward."

Lewenza said that part of a longer term economic plan must include reducing the country's reliance on the tar sands as an economic driver - widely recognized as an environmental catastrophe.

The country has high expectations of the upcoming federal budget, given that it took the government more than two months off to write it, said Lewenza. "Early indications are that there will be very little new in the budget, more re-announcing of pre-existing funds and rhetoric about innovation. We need a long term plan that includes far more than deficit reduction."

"We need a budget that invests in Canadians and our future," said Lewenza. This should include an indication the government intends to address the looming pension crisis, along with the provinces, as well as income and training supports for workers who have lost their jobs.

Approximately 500,000 unemployed Canadians will lose their Employment Insurance in the months to come. Lewenza called for an extension of EI benefits and improving the eligibility criteria, so that more workers will be covered by EI, instead of falling through the cracks in the country's social safety net.

Lewenza also cautioned against cutting funds for programs and public services when the country is only beginning to recover from the recession and only in some regions. "Conservative-leaning critics would have us believe that paying down the deficit must be the number one priority of the government. But Canadians understand that the deficit cannot be reduced if massive unemployment and underemployment continues.

"Deficit reduction will come through job creation - not eroding existing jobs. Cutting the public service and clobbering public service workers with demands for pension give-backs are part and parcel of the Conservative agenda, regardless of a recession - no-one should be fooled about this."


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