PRESS RELEASE: DECEMBER 05, 2008

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Get Your Act Together!

Ken Georgetti says Canadians are paying the price for federal government inaction on the economy

OTTAWA - The Canadian Labour Congress says today's devastating employment  numbers from Statistics Canada are proof-positive that the minority Conservative government is failing to provide the country with the economic leadership it needs. "Last month, while Mr. Harper and his finance Minister were preparing an overly optimistic economic statement, 75,000 Canadians lost their jobs, more than any single month in recent history. At the same time that the Prime Minister was telling Canadians there was no need for further economic stimulus, another 42,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared, says Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. Georgetti also points to recent announcements from General Motors and, just yesterday, from AbitibiBowater in Grand Falls-Windsor of more job losses to come. He lays the blame for the job losses on Prime Minister Harper and his government's failure to provide any help during a global economic crisis. "Factories are closing and secondary industries are laying workers off. Less than half of the people who lose their jobs can expect help from our broken Employment Insurance system. Mr. Harper has done little to help in the 52 days since his minority was elected. Now he's shut down Parliament for another 52 days while Canadians wait for action. Canadians deserve better," says Georgetti. According to Georgetti, the federal government should be taking action through an economic stimulus package that includes major investments in infrastructure to create jobs and lay the foundation for a greener economy. He also says action is needed to protect pensions, improve Employment Insurance and provide training for laid-off workers so they can quickly get back on their feet. "We are the only G-20 nation that has failed to take the kind of bold action required to deal with the global economic crisis. Our country is at risk of being left behind and here we are, waiting for the Prime Minister to get his act together," says Georgetti.

Senior Economist Andrew Jackson's analysis of the latest employment situation: The Ontario economy fell off a cliff last month as the US meltdown intensified the already-virulent manufacturing and forest jobs crisis. An almost unprecedented 42,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in November in Ontario alone, and 20,000 jobs were lost in other sectors in Ontario. Unemployment rates soared in hard-hit industrial communities, particularly Kitchener, St. Catharines and Oshawa. The overall Ontario unemployment rate leapt from 6.5% to 7.1%. Nationally, 75,000 employees lost their jobs - led by a loss of 42,000 manufacturing jobs and 26,000 related transportation and warehousing jobs - and the unemployment rate rose from 6.2% to 6.3%. Unemployment would have risen much more if the labour force had not shrunk as many workers, particularly older workers dropped out. The participation rate fell from 67.9% to 67.6%. These numbers are at least as bad as those we saw in the brutal 1989 to 1992 manufacturing-led recession. With almost 400,000 manufacturing jobs now lost since the peak in 2002 this downturn is likely to be far worse, unless governments respond to this crisis very quickly and in a very determined way. The numbers also leave no room for doubt that the Canadian economy as a whole has now entered a recession. The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca

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