The COVID-19 pandemic can be stopped, but only if we act now. But the Canadian government is more concerned about protecting corporate profits and Donald Trump than taking the necessary measures. Working class action is necessary to stop thousands from dying.
Every day they delay taking the necessary measures means more people will die. On Wednesday, March 11 Trudeau announced $1 billion for corporations, and a measly $5 million to end the employment insurance waiting period. Workers got 0.5 per cent of the support that was given to the bosses. Monday, March 16 Trudeau announced $10 billion for corporations and nothing for workers. He also enacted a travel ban which inexplicably excluded US citizens, purely so as not to anger Donald Trump. The virus is out of control in the USA, making it the main vector of infection into Canada. On Tuesday 17 Trudeau appeared in front of the cameras to announce no further measures! Scandalously the corporate media did nothing to challenge him on this. Trudeau’s inaction endangers lives.
People are told to wait for further announcements, but as long as there is no explicit coverage for sick pay, quarantine pay, and parental leave, people will be forced to work and spread the virus for another day. There is also a patchwork quilt of regulations from one province to the next, and the federal government is doing nothing to end the contradictory policies that will only weaken the response. Trudeau’s delay is because the government does not want to endanger profits, or give workers anything that they may want to keep after the crisis is over. This capitalist government has shown that it does not care about people. We can have no faith in Trudeau. It is necessary that workers and unions put forward demands that can stop the virus.
- Immediate implementation of sick leave, quarantine leave, and parental leave at full pay. We cannot have people forced to spread the coronavirus for economic reasons when they should be isolated at home.
- Full pay for workers and contractors laid-off due to closures.
- Illegalization of evictions or utility cut-offs. Moratorium on rent and mortgage payments.
- Removal of bandwidth limits, long distance phone charges and restricted minutes, paywalls, and anything that stops people from communicating freely.
- Workers control to pause all non-essential production for profit. Don’t force people to get infected doing needless work. Where possible retool production towards essential services and healthcare needs. For a war-footing against the virus.
- End profiteering in healthcare. Expropriate the pharmaceutical companies and any private facilities. Run them under health workers’ control to rapidly increase capacity and minimize the effects of decades of underfunding. It is scandalous that Canada has ⅓ of the intensive care beds of other countries and the system is already overloaded in normal times. Mobilize all resources to create more beds.
- Release the resources for mass testing. The rich and celebrities who do not meet the current criteria are getting tests, while working class people with symptoms are being blocked.
- Expropriate under-utilized housing to house the homeless. Cramped homeless shelters are an infection nightmare, while there are thousands of empty condos owned by speculators. Take over the condos and give each one to a homeless or under-housed family.
- No endangering healthcare workers’ lives due to budget restrictions and lack of protective equipment. For healthcare workers’ control and financial seizures to make sure the correct masks are used, and staffing levels maintained.
- No one should be stuck abroad because of the profiteering of private airlines. Nationalize airlines and develop a centralized plan to bring people home.
- An end to provincialism. The patchwork quilt of regulations, lack of consistency regarding school closures and sick pay, etc., weakens the fight. For a unified response under the control of working class organizations.
- For wartime seizure of all assets of banks and major corporations to fund the fight. Over $1 trillion of dead money is sitting in bank vaults unused and uninvested. Mobilize all that money to fight the virus.
- No handouts to the Bay Street speculators. Billions in handouts have been gobbled up with no effect on the markets. This corporate welfare will then be paid for by workers via regressive taxation and austerity. No bailouts, expropriate!
- Protect the jobs of workers from bankruptcy. For nationalization and workers’ control to save workers’ livelihoods.
For a “stay-home” strike to demand action now!
We can have no faith in the Trudeau government. They will always see working class lives as expendable at the altar of corporate greed. They may be forced to eventually give in to some of the above demands, but when they do it will be too little, and too late. They will also move to claw back any concessions they give, despite the fact that these demands are necessary for workers even outside of a crisis. Therefore we need to demand that our unions end all class-collaboration with the federal government and call for a stay-home strike to achieve the above demands. There have been many instances in Canada and internationally of workers downing tools in the face of unsafe conditions. A stay-home strike would be the ultimate statement of solidarity with those forced to stay home with no pay. Sick and quarantine leave should have been implemented weeks ago. Now is the time to demand action from our unions and the government!
We need a war-time approach and eradication of the profit motive, under control of the working class, in all measures to stop the pandemic. Every day that we fail to implement the above measures means an exacerbation of the crisis and more deaths. Capitalism and private profit have shown themselves to be totally useless. It is instructive that the only effective actions that governments have taken have been ones that violate the profit motive. This in itself is a resounding argument for socialism. A workers’ government that produces for people’s needs and not corporate profit is necessary to win this fight, and end the coming capitalist economic crisis. This fight is literally one of life and death. Fight the virus, fight capitalism, fight for socialism.