September 2020 - Canada celebrates Labour Day on the first Monday of September.

This year, the event falls on September 7.

The holiday is traditionally marked with gatherings by labour unions and their supporters to highlight victories in workers’ rights in the country.

For a number of people, especially families, it represents an opportunity to have fun together before the re-opening of schools.

This year undoubtedly presents a different atmosphere, with both employers and workers coping with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

On August 28, 2020, Statistics Canada reported on the extent of the pandemic’s effect on the country’s economy.

According to the federal agency, the nation’s gross domestic product declined 38.7 percent in the second quarter of the year.

This was the worst three-month stretch since data of this nature was recorded starting in 1961.

The economy ground to a halt in April, at the height of lockdowns. 

Economic output started to rebound in May. 

According to economics division of the Royal Bank of Canada or RBC, the bounce was helped by the strong level of government supports for households.

In a paper released on the same day Statistics Canada revealed the state of the economy, RBC Economics noted that looking forward, “recovery from the pullback in the first half of this year will not be quick, even with an early bounce-back that looks stronger than feared”.

“Labour markets are still exceptionally soft, and it will take time to reconnect workers with jobs,” it reported.

This outlook does not provide good news to many Canadian Filipinos.

From May 26 to June 8 this year, over 36,000 Canadians completed an online survey conducted by Statistics Canada.

Among Canadian Filipinos who responded to the survey, 42.2 percent reported having experienced job loss or reduced working hours.

They come second only to people of West Asian origins, who indicated that 46.5 percent among them experienced job loss or reduced working hours.

Among South Asians, it was 36.7 percent, and Chinese, 31.2 percent.

Not surprisingly, 42.9 percent of Canadian Filipinos who responded to the survey reported having felt strong or moderate impact of COVID-19 on their ability to meet financial obligations and essential needs.

Statistics Canada’s report about the survey results points to one uncomfortable situation in Canada.

According to the federal agency, visible minorities “often have lower incomes and more precarious employment than the White population”.

It follows that their “ability to buffer the income losses due to work interruptions is likely more limited”.

“High poverty rates among most visible minority groups prior the COVID-19 pandemic make them vulnerable to the financial impact of work disruptions,” Statistics Canada noted.

The results of the survey confirm the need for the government to refine its data collection on the impacts of the virus on specific racial groups in the country.

The lesson here is simple: COVID-19 exposed how inequality impacts the ability of many communities to deal with crises.

As noted by Unifor, one of the largest trade unions in Canada, the data can be used to develop “fair policies, equitable health strategies, culturally appropriate resources”.

The information is also important, Unifor pointed out, in “addressing the racism and discrimination that exists in society”.

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