Hope on the horizon

It’s about time! Warmer weather. Higher vaccination rates. Falling infection rates. A real chance to “re-open” safely and durably.

And with all that, tighter labour markets too. 

Momentum’s building, and so are signs of growing bargaining power for some of our least powerful workers, with employers raising wages, more workers unionizing, and gig workers organizing for basic labour rights (backed by the courts). Even sectoral bargaining for low-paid workers may be on the menu. (Did you know Toronto led the pack in 1893 in the construction sector!) 

Add to that momentum the fact that the idea of the care economy as an economic driver has caught fire. The attention it’s getting by employers and business leaders involves not only how to help make the most of workers who are balancing the demands of work with the demands of family, but also the fact that there’s an opportunity to juice more profit out of something we all need

It’s a fact that the care economy will grow post-pandemic, as the population ages. And that raises the question: what has really changed for our most essential and most vulnerable workers, those in the care economy? 

In Canada, over two-thirds of our COVID deaths occurred in Long-Term Care facilities (50% higher than in other OECD nations). In Ontario the licenses for over 30,000 long term care beds are set to expire in 2025, and 15,000 new beds are in the works. Will they be for-profit? As federal funding gets rolled out to expand access to childcare, will that result in more for-profit care too? Here’s a sobering look at the reality of the early years and childcare workforce in Ontario.  

For us to get the care we need, and make sure we are also caring for the people who provide it, we’re going to need some guiding principles to make sure we don’t end up recovering from the pandemic by caring for profit more than we care for each other. 

And we might have a chance to talk about just that, sooner than later. The Bloc Quebecois has already started sabre-rattling for an August federal election. And you may have already been checking the calendar to find out when your next provincial election is. 

We’ve got your back!

The Care Economy statement outlines the six principles that any government (or any political party) needs for their next budget, their next policy move, their next platform document. 

I bet you can feel the renewed sense of hope in the air, along with the frustration that things aren’t getting better more quickly. For things to stay better, let’s keep our governments’ feet to the fire. 

But first: the long weekend! Have a great one! (And, for all you essential workers out there who will be working this weekend, THANK YOU, and hope your statutory paid day off gives you a real break when it comes.)

Find me on Twitter @ArmineYalnizyan, and on Instagram @futureofworkers.

The Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers is supported by the Atkinson Foundation. Find more information here.