Despite slowing inflation, prices still rising faster than wages

August 16, 2022

Bruske: Government should tax corporate profiteers to pay for extending expiring EI measures

OTTAWA––Improving inflation numbers are a hopeful sign, but there’s still an affordability crisis facing workers and their families, cautioned Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Today’s slightly improved CPI numbers showed prices still rising at 7.6% in July, well ahead of average wage growth. Groceries were up 9.9% – the largest rise since 1981. Prices for basics like bread, eggs, fruit, and coffee and tea were all up sharply.

“Despite inflation finally slowing from the 40-year record increases we have seen this year, workers are seeing their purchasing power going backwards with every paycheque,” said Bruske. “To make matters worse, when expanded access to Employment Insurance expires in just six weeks workers could face trouble qualifying for benefits.”

With EI measures set to expire in September, Bruske said government action is needed to make sure thousands of workers aren’t left behind. For some workers hired during the pandemic, returning to the old Harper-era EI rules could mean they soon don’t qualify at all.

“Unemployed workers will face a 66% jump in hours required to qualify for EI, much tougher restrictions on who can get benefits, and clawbacks of their severance and vacation pay,” explained Bruske. “It’s the wrong time for the government to abandon people losing their jobs. We are urging the government to extend temporary measures until the EI program can be permanently improved, as the government has promised to do.”

Bruske added that it is critical workers are not made to pay for an affordability crisis they did not create, particularly while some companies take advantage of the situation to extract outrageous profits.

“While many workers struggle to afford essentials, we have seen some corporations take advantage of rising inflation and supply chain issues to rack up their prices and rake in record profits. That’s unfair,” concluded Bruske. “Other countries have moved to tax these corporate super profits. It’s time Canada’s government did the same in order to help families struggling the most and extend EI help to those who need it.”

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