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Danny Cavanagh: Jobs, jobs and more jobs, an election must be coming

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – It is quite astounding how easily we seem to buy into the false agendas of the politicians who come election time promise a lot but deliver something entirely different. It is time that we get our heads out of the sand and start to demand better, enough of the pie in the sky promises. Just watching the ads the last while as politicians promise jobs, jobs, jobs, lacking clarity on what kind of jobs. We do not need more precarious jobs without benefits. It must be really hard to say good union jobs. In the past, we have watched many promises being expelled like hot air going into a balloon only to be burst when they get into power.

To the political hopefuls who promise jobs, jobs, jobs, if the past is any indicator, they get in power and then cut jobs, cut good-paying jobs, jobs with benefits. So much for the promises. Is it any wonder so many have lost hope or don’t vote? Let’s hope the next elections and our collective people power will be different because we have now seen that the pandemic has exposed a lot about many things. Let’s face it, when workers do not have money, they do not spend. Workers in the downtown core are an essential aspect of spending at local businesses.

It’s time we start to understand the detriment of cutting jobs and the vicious circle of austerity thinking. Let’s face it, there is a lot of economic analysis that concludes austerity doesn’t work. Think about this, austerity takes away workers spending power. No customers, no spending, no economic recovery. Our government must continue to put disposable income into the hands of workers. As citizens, we can no longer accept the promises of how much life will be better in the post-pandemic era and the calls for austerity that will come. Many years of austerity, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the public service cuts, cuts to health care, education and other services have left our provinces and country struggling. The pandemic has shown us the reality of how our seniors in care have been suffering and far too many workers are just a few dollars away from economic hardship. The pandemic exposed the social inequality that the austerity agenda has created.

Our politicians who are now or soon will be looking for your vote must start and talk about broad social reforms, reforms that prioritize the health and well-being of people. That they start and walk the walk that shows they recognize the role that government must play in creating a more just society. As citizens and workers, we will not be fooled into the land of austerity promises again. It will be tough for upcoming politicians to stand up for a more just society when we know the rich and powerful will push the austerity agenda to protect their interests. To grow a backbone to not just talk the talk but walk the walk and educate the public that we can afford new social spending.

We know that investing in local Canadian-made jobs, products and services will work, not lowering taxes for corporations and the wealthy, not privatizing services and not cutting jobs and wages. Such cuts are not the answer. The rich and powerful have had their way for decades. Far too many people are struggling to survive all while the rich get richer. A few major corporations made huge profits during the pandemic and said nothing as the income inequality worsened. Politicians must stand up and say that now is the time to invest in workers. Now is the time to invest in public services, now is the time to provide safe working conditions for workers, now is the time to invest in a new green economy. Now is the time to ensure our seniors get the care they need, now is the time to invest in our health care system so it can meet future challenges. Now is the time to invest in more mental health care and support and create good-paying union jobs and lastly, now is the time to say no to austerity.

I will not hold my breath waiting for the red or blue politicians to wave the flag of someone other than the rich and powerful. I won’t be stunned that those talking jobs, jobs, jobs today will do the opposite in power and cut jobs. As Dr Phil would say, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. It is now up to us to use our political will in the voting booth to make a difference for workers and choose a better life for our families. Not taking those bold steps in the voting booth come next election will see more and more inequality in our society. It will see the rich get richer. Ask yourself, what do you have to lose?

Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

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