COVID and Mass Unemployment: The NDP and Beyond

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2141 ... July 8, 2020

COVID and Mass Unemployment: The NDP and Beyond

Tim Heffernan, Simon Schweitzer and Bill Hopwood

Canada has now been under COVID-19 restrictions for three months, and many provinces are starting to open up again, although the virus is not under control. Canada is not yet out of the first wave and is certainly not ready to deal with the inevitable second wave. The Liberal government has acted too little and too late, but living next door to US’s Trump-caused disaster, it doesn’t look so bad.

In most countries, there has been a rallying of support for governments if they have acted, even belatedly, on COVID. This is true in Canada with an increase in support for the Federal Liberals and provincial premiers. Politics over these last few months has been dominated by national unity and the claim "We’re all in it together." Yet it is painfully clear that this is not the case -- the homeless are still homeless, care workers lack sufficient PPE, the old and the poor are dying, but very few... bankers are getting ill. Big business is getting generous support from the Liberals, while rent debts pile up.

However, this time of unity will not last. Canada and the world are in a deep economic depression, which was coming before COVID-19; the virus has triggered a very rapid fall over the cliff. In the short-term, the government poured money into big business and provided support for workers and small businesses. Nevertheless, Canada faces years of unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognizes that this is the worst world recession in nearly a century, and they don’t know when or how it will end. Within two months, three million people lost their jobs. In May, official unemployment was 13.7 per cent, but Stats Canada acknowledges that the real level of unemployment is much higher.

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