Conversation starter: What does rising inflation mean for Canadian workers?

Inflation is rapidly rising in Canada and all over the world, and workers are in trouble.  

Growing consumer demand, global supply chain disruptions, product shortages, and rising oil prices have all contributed to a spiralling cost of living.  

This fall, consumer prices in Canada rose at their fastest rate in 18 years. Food prices rose by almost 4%, and are predicted to rise by a further 5-7 per cent in 2022. A rise of 4.8 per cent in the cost of housing is also expected, with increases to both rent and mortgages on the horizon.  

In 2021, the average inflation rate of goods in Canada was 4.4 per cent. In the 20 years before the pandemic, goods inflation only averaged 1.4 per cent. 

The outlook is not at all reassuring. The Bank of Canada says it isn't sure when supply chain issues will work themselves out and when inflationary pressures will ease. 

Meeting basic needs is harder and harder for individuals and families across Canada. For those who work part-time, under precarious conditions, and are part of marginalized communities, a breaking point feels even closer.  

Workers in Canada need to see the kinds of wage increases that would allow them to keep up with the mounting cost of living.  

Now more than ever, unions need to take action to protect workers from inflation by fighting for fair wages, good working conditions and inclusive workplaces – not just for members of the public service, but for all Canadian workers. 

Increasing wages by the same percentage as the rate of inflation is the bare minimum to make sure that workers and their families across the country can stay afloat as expenses skyrocket. Wage increases are also a crucial way to stimulate the economies of small communities across Canada. They allow workers to put their wages to work where they live, and afford  groceries and other essential goods and services. 

Inflation rates are at the highest levels seen in more than 18 years, and members deserve a wage increase that keeps up with the rising costs of food, housing, and childcare — anything less is a pay cut for federal public service workers. 

That's why PSAC has proposed a 4.5 per cent wage increase in each year of a three-year agreement for more than 165,000 federal public service workers who are now in the process of negotiating new collective agreements with the government. 

Our members have continued to deliver frontline services throughout the pandemic, getting vital new programs up and running in record time for Canadians who needed them most.  Their ability to keep delivering those services effectively to everyone across Canada hangs in the balance. 

In this critical moment, with the future of workers – and the Canadians they serve – at stake, it is up to the federal government to step up and provide wages that meet the rising cost of living so that employers across the country follow suit and make sure that nobody falls behind.

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February 8, 2022