Check out our map to see how much ground we've covered on the road to fairness!
Ottawa (23 July 2014) — It has been just over a year since the 2013 Convention where delegates of the National Union of Public and General Employees committed to taking the All Together Now! campaign to the road to find out how people are dealing with the effects of income inequality in their communities.
National tour talking to Canadians about the problem of growing income inequality
The first leg of the ATN campaign's Fairness Express, which will span every province across Canada, started in the Atlantic provinces in September 2013. For more than six weeks, the Fairness Express traveled thousands of miles, with its team talking to Atlantic Canadians at festivals and markets, at air shows, and in downtown cores, in shopping malls and parking stalls about how they are managing in the aftermath of one of the worst financial crises in our history.
The recession may have started in 2008, but many people, in Canada and around the world, are still feeling its effects. Factories have been shuttered, people have been laid off or have seen their wages reduced, and public services are being cut back. We are seeing more and more privatization of public services and it is getting harder for people to stand up against the bad behaviour of employers. Employment insurance rules have been tightened, making it harder for people to get the support they need. And prices continue to rise.
All this is happening while banks get bailed out, corporations get government incentives to reinvest in infrastructure and industry — but instead they sit on the money. Estimates put the figure that private companies are holding onto at $626 billion instead of using it to create jobs. Corporations continue to make use of lucrative tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes on profits. The wealthiest of Canadians are sending their money offshore to tax havens to evade tax authorities, or they are setting up corporations to funnel their money into to avoid paying taxes on their full wealth. Recent reports say that the gap between the ultra wealthy and the rest of us is actually much worse than previously reported.
People know the system is rigged and are eager to change it
The stories that have been shared with our teams on the Fairness Express have a constant refrain: People know there is something wrong in the system. It's fixed, and the odds are not in our favour.
In Atlantic Canada, young people are moving away more than ever before because they cannot find work in their communities. As towns shrink, public services vanish. People are left without the support and infrastructure they need to survive.
In Ontario, people talked about taking on multiple jobs now that the one main factory in their hometown has closed. People shared their stories of worry and fear for the future. For another six weeks, from Windsor to Kenora, communities turned out to tell the Fairness Express engagers what they think needs to be changed and why. Engagers shared the stories from other communities, and people realized they weren't alone in this struggle for a fairer Canada. They were grateful to see that there are people on their side trying to improve things for everyone.
In Manitoba, it has been the same story. People sharing how much they value quality public services and how they understand that decent jobs help communities thrive. They know what kind of country they want to live in and know that we have a ways to go yet.
In every region of the country so far, people want to engage in meaningful ways to protect and improve all the good things we have in our lives. They want to work to make life better for everyone around them, not just for the chosen few. They know that by sharing ideas, building connections and working together, we have the ability to convince people that we can have a strong and prosperous country without engaging in a race to the bottom.
Where we've been, where we're headed
When the All Together Now! campaign started there was little desire to talk about tax fairness or income inequality. Now, the issue is mainstream. Public discourse has changed and we need to keep pushing the issues forward.
We've covered a lot of ground to get to this point. To see everywhere we've been so far, check out our online map! As the Fairness Express continues its journey to British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, more conversations will be shared and connections made to keep this movement for fairness growing.
We need you to be a part of it! Join us!
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE