TORONTO — As Election Day nears, CTV News Toronto is taking a deeper look into the issues that matter most to local voters, breaking down the party promises as they apply to Battleground: GTA.
When Shaikh Shams Tanvir moved to Toronto at the height of the pandemic, the financial services worker was bracing for worst when it came to the job hunt; postings were few and far between during one of the toughest labour markets in years.
“Definitely the situation was not as I expected if there was no COVID-19,” Tanvir said Friday.
But with the help of WoodGreen employment services—whose trained staff helps unemployed residents write resumes, develop interview skills and connect with employers—Tanvir was able to find a job in his field within a matter of months.
“I think from June onwards, the market actually started opening with all the restrictions getting lower and lower,” Tanvir said. “I saw the job market getting more traction.”
“Clients have experienced a lot of volatility in terms of their ability to retain work and being able to be actually employed in their field,” Steve Vanderherberg, director of economic empowerment with Woodgreen Employment Services, told CTV News Toronto Friday.
Retail worker Le Shawnna Baker spent most of the pandemic in on-again, off-again employment.
“I got laid off a couple of times, and I came back to work, then in a few months they were like ‘just kidding, we’re closing again,’” she said.
Baker is trying to break into the business world but says her options for applications and networking are few and far between as the pandemic continues.
“That’s been a huge hindrance as I’m trying to progress my career.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the country’s biggest economic contraction since the Great Depression, putting millions of Canadians suddenly out of work.
Employees turned to employment insurance and emergency wage subsidies as lockdowns lasted months, and only recently has the employment climate begun to slowly rebound.
“Things are better than the start of the pandemic, but not everything is back to the same level that it was before,” Vanderherberg said.
THE CONSERVATIVE PROMISE
“Canada’s Conservatives will stand with those who suffered during the downturn and help them get back into the workforce,” leader Erin O’Toole pledged Aug. 20.
O’Toole’s Tories are pledging to double the Canada Workers’ benefit and restore one million jobs lost due to the pandemic.
Their Canada Job Surge Plan pledges to pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new hires for six months after the emergency wage subsidy is phased out, and the Tories say they would encourage companies to spend money by providing a five-per-cent investment tax credit in 2022 and 2023.
The Conservatives are also promising to provide a 25-per-cent tax credit on amounts up to $100,000 for investment in small business and offer business loans of up to $200,000 for small businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors.
THE LIBERAL PROMISE
“To get people back to work, we’ll extend the Canada Recovery hiring program, which makes it easier not just to hire people, but to boost wages to address the labour shortage some sectors are facing,” Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced on Labour Day.
The Liberals are vowing to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels and extend COVID-19 wage subsidies into the fall.
A re-elected Liberal government says they would expand the Canada Workers Benefit to support a million additional Canadians in low-wage jobs, introduce a new employment insurance benefit for self-employed Canadians beginning in 2023 and pay up to 75 per cent of rent and income expenses for qualifying tourism-sector businesses until May 2022.
THE NDP PROMISE
“People who work any job in this country, full-time, should be able to live with dignity and respect,” New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said in Hamilton Sept. 6.
The NDP are pledging to create a million jobs by investing in transit, infrastructure, and housing, extend wage subsidies and implement a hiring bonus for employers.
The party is vowing to create a low-income supplement so that no one who relies on employment insurance would receive less than $2,000 per month.
An NDP government also says they would implement a federal minimum wage that begins at $15 per hour and rises to $20 per hour, indexed to the cost of living.
Additionally, Singh’s party wants to require large employers to spend at least one per cent of payroll on training for their employees annually.
THE GREEN PROMISE
“The green economy represents the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetime,” Green Party leader Annamie Paul said Aug. 15.
“It’s where the jobs of the future are.”
Paul is pledging to leverage the green economy and when emergency wage benefits wind down, replace them with a Guaranteed Livable Income to provide Canadians with a basic revenue source for food and accommodation.
The measure would offer the greatest security to precarious workers, people with disabilities, seniors, the underemployed and those experiencing homelessness.