(Montreal) Political parties are urging business associations to review the assistance they provide to workers at a time when they are struggling to hire companies, if they request that government assistance be extended to distressed industries.
The Quebec Employers’ Council (CPQ) is calling for “clean and simple” abandonment as the Canadian Economic Recovery Benefit (PCRE) expires on October 23. The so-called Canada Emergency Benefit (CEP) unemployment assistance program has been extended more than once since its launch in the spring of 2020.
“In our opinion, this is a mistake,” said Carl Blackburn, president and CEO of the Association of Owners’ Benefits, in an interview with the Canadian Press. In the face of labor shortages, the government has no reason to continue the program, in some cases people may be reluctant to adopt the program. ”
Charles Milliard, president and CEO of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Federation (FCCQ), added that PCRE was “annoying” to the business community. “Our members are calling us to tell them. The main problem with recovery is that when there is a shortage of employees in our businesses they cannot believe we are managing it.”
However, economic recovery has been uneven in all areas. Some professionals, such as pilots or musicians, do not necessarily have a profile of positions to be filled. “To prevent this situation, we must provide wage assistance to distressed sectors, including aeronautics, tourism, accommodation and catering, in order to maintain employment relations with these individuals,” Mr. Blackburn replied.
Mr Milliard, for his part, believes that temporary changes in employment insurance will help in specific cases. However, PCRE in its current form sends a “false message to employers who are struggling with hiring”.
Still on the issue of labor shortages, the FCCQ explains the issue of “striking” during the processing of immigration applications to the federal government. “While tens of thousands of people are waiting in Quebec to fully experience the Canadian experience, we want to hear from the parties on how they should deal with the waiting lists.”
Business support needs to be maintained
Despite the recovery, Jasmine Gunnett, vice president of national affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said some sectors of the economy still needed federal support. The pandemic is striving specifically for many entrepreneurs. “Yet many SMEs are in a very difficult situation, not because they made bad business choices, but because they had to suspend their operations completely or partially. Federal parties need to have a plan for economic recovery and SMEs.”
The Quebec Employers Council (CPQ) hopes to extend assistance programs for businesses until the spring of 2022, but only to the most affected sectors: aeronautics, tourism, accommodation and restoration. “For some cyclical sectors, the spring rally is not enough to bury the losses of the past year and a half. If we do not help them, these businesses may not get out of the autumn or winter. By next spring, we will have a full normal cycle.”
Questions about employment insurance reform
The possibility of a job insurance reform is also of concern to the business community, which is waiting to find out the details. Despite the election, negotiations will begin in August, Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtru said in July.
On the union side, the Federation of Workers of Quebec (FTQ) on Sunday demanded an improvement in the employment insurance program. “The pandemic understands the importance of a reliable and robust social security network,” its president, Daniel Boyer, said in a press release. It is also our responsibility to protect and improve our society to make it more affordable, more democratic and greener. That is why those who want to lead us must listen to the people. ”
Mr. Milliard is not necessarily opposed to improving employment insurance. He said if Canadians make this social choice, they will need to find another source of funding to finance the program so as not to add other payroll taxes to the business.
Employment insurance contributions represent a heavy burden for SMEs, Mr. Gunnett adds. The program is 60% funded by companies and 40% by workers. The government is not putting money in the fund. If he wants to make a difference, he has to listen to colleagues and Canadian SMEs are important collaborators. ”
Clear planning is required
The three unions that joined did not formulate a specific demand for a return to a balanced budget, but they wanted the parties to provide a “clear” and “credible” plan. If public finance is not under control, inflation indicates financial risk, there are concerns.
Mr Blackburn hopes the campaign will focus on ideas on attacks between parties. “What I want to see in this campaign is to demonstrate what we want to do, rather than criticize others. I want to hear about labor shortages, the environment, technology and public debt.”