OTTAWA — A record labour shortage and rising wages may seem like good news for workers, but labour leaders say employees aren’t seeing the gains that corporations are experiencing amid sky-high inflation.
Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske says workers are feeling the pinch as the cost of living rises.
Canada’s year-over-year inflation rate was 7.6 per cent in July, while wages grew by 5.2 per cent over that same period.
Meanwhile, Bruske says corporations in industries like oil and gas have been posting record profits.
Addressing that imbalance, she says, is one of the priorities of the labour movement going forward.
“It’s making sure that we actually meet the affordability crisis by addressing inflation and by having governments look at the gigantic profits that many employers are reaping right now,” Bruske said.
The NDP have been pressing the federal government to extend the windfall tax levied on financial institutions to oil and gas companies, as well as big box retailers.
But some economists are weary of windfall taxes over concerns they could scare away business investment.
According to analysis conducted by David Macdonald, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, after-tax corporate profits reached a historically high percentage of the total Canadian economy output in the second quarter of this year.
In contrast, Macdonald found workers’ compensation as a share of gross domestic product trended downward, falling to the lowest level since 2006.
“It’s pretty clear that we’re seeing record high profits, and record high proportion of our economy is going to corporate after tax profits as opposed to workers wages,” Macdonald said.
The economist says the current windfall tax is “very limited” and suggests expanding it to the entire corporate sector.
Ottawa and District Labour Council president Sean McKenny says there are some businesses that undoubtedly took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but seeing the high profits of some corporations has been frustrating for workers.
“That bugs workers in general, because, again, the fairness is not there,” McKenny said.
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