INF18 ING Presentation LRaitt CA by GeAb2hXa


									                 ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
                      Inter-American Council for Integral Development

XVII INTER-AMERICAN CONFERENCE                                                 OEA/Ser.K/XII.17.1
OF MINISTERS OF LABOR (IACML)                                                  CIDI/TRABAJO/INF.18/11
October 31 to November 1, 2011                                                 1 November 2011
San Salvador, El Salvador                                                      Original: English


              (Delivered during the Second Plenary Session held on November 1, 2011)


        Mr. Chair, Secretaries and Ministers of Labour, heads of delegation, workers’ and
         employers’ representatives, dear friends and colleagues.

        I want to begin by thanking Minister Centeno and the officials from the Ministry of Labour
         and Social Welfare of El Salvador for their generous hospitality and hard work in hosting this

         It is a pleasure for me to be here today to take stock of the work we have done since the last
         conference in Buenos Aires, in 2009.

        It is also a pleasure to share with you the Government of Canada’s experience and views on
         putting jobs at the heart of strategies to create a strong, sustainable, and balanced economy.

        We are striving to build the labour force of the future while ensuring that everyone has an
         opportunity to reach their full potential.

        The Government of Canada’s main priority is our economic recovery.

        Economic crises, such as the current one, require governments to develop comprehensive
         responses that are not limited to economic or financial measures.

        Ministries of Labour have a key role to play in addressing the employment and labour
         dimensions of a financial crisis.

        I’m sure you will all agree that a well-functioning labour market is important to maintaining
         a high standard of living.

        This is one of the key drivers in Canada’s low-tax plan for completing our economic
         recovery, creating jobs and long term sustainable growth.


   As we see it, there are three basic elements to a well-functioning labour market: participation,
    attachment and skills.

   The Canadian labour market has recovered reasonably well from the economic downturn.

   Our unemployment rate is just over 7 per cent.

   We’ve protected many jobs through our Work-Sharing Program that allows participating
    companies to temporarily reduce their work-week, and thus their salary costs, while they are
    going through hard times.

   Under the program, the firm’s employees can collect employment insurance benefits for the
    days they do not work.
   More than 285,000 employees have benefited from the Work-Sharing program since 2009.

   Not only have we recouped all the jobs we lost in the recession, we’ve actually created more.

   There are more than 425,000 additional Canadians working today than there were in July
    2009. Growth is beginning to return to the economy.


   Canada has implemented many of the principles and policies outlined in the International
    Labour Organization’s Global Jobs Pact through Canada’s Economic Action Plan and
    through initiatives at the provincial and territorial level.

   The Economic Action Plan, initiated in 2009, is a focused and integrated strategy that
    balances short-term requirements with the longer term needs of the labour market.
   The $62 billion Plan is designed to stimulate the economy while strengthening Canada's
    safety net for those who are hit the hardest by the recession.

   The Economic Action Plan does this by stimulating consumer spending, supporting
    industries in difficulty, ensuring access to financing for businesses, investing in infrastructure
    projects, assisting workers who lose their jobs, and strengthening employment services,
    including training and retraining programs.

   Specific measures for Canadians include personal income tax relief; direct stimulus funding
    to modernize infrastructure and improve social housing, including many green projects; and
    investment in post-secondary education and in research, technology and innovation.

   In order to support Canadian workers, our government launched the Wage Earner Protection
    Program (WEPP) initiative to help workers manage one of the toughest challenges—going
    without their hard-earned pay because an employer has gone bankrupt.


     At the same time, Canada’s recovery has been uneven, with labour shortages in some regions
      and high unemployment in others.

     And some vulnerable groups in our population have been disproportionately affected by the
      crisis and are still suffering.

      For example, the unemployment rate for Canadian youth, at 14 per cent, is still 4 percentage
      points higher than it was before the recession.

     As well, we continue to be affected by events in the global economy.

     With weak growth and volatility in financial markets, the short-term economic outlook is

     But the long-term trends are clear.


     First of all, population aging is changing the Canadian labour market in profound ways and a
      shrinking base of workers may lead to slowing economic growth.

     So we need to maximize participation in the labour force.

     Having a workforce that is flexible and adaptable is key.

     We also need to meet the increasing demand for skilled workers.

     Employers want workers with better education and a higher general skill level.

     They also want workers with a greater variety of skills.

     With a view to the future, we are building on the success of programs that we know are


     The federal government in Canada supports a well-functioning labour market through:

   funding for skills development and employment programs, including training for young

   temporary income support for the unemployed;

   targeted labour market programming for under-represented groups such as immigrants and
    older workers;

   support for post-secondary education, and

   Encouragement of private sector workplace training.

     Canada’s Economic Action Plan strongly supports a jobs-focused recovery from the
      economic crisis by assisting employers, workers and their families.

     In Canada, immigrants represent a rapidly increasing contribution to labour force growth.

     Our country has always welcomed immigrants and we are taking steps to ensure that the
      credentials they’ve earned elsewhere are recognized.

     We are currently looking at ways to link the selection of immigrants with employer demand
      for specific skills.

     When older workers lose their jobs, we help them start a new career, through retraining and
      counselling in groups of peers.

     For older workers, this model of mutual support has proved to be more effective than
      traditional training approaches.

     Adherence to labour rights has not and will not take a back seat to job creation and strategies
      to create a strong, sustainable and balanced economy.

     There is no room for compromise on this front.

     In the area of occupational health and safety, we are taking a proactive approach to assist
      workers and employers in addressing hazards in their workplaces and preventing injuries and
      illnesses that add significant costs to operating a business and compromise the quality of life
      of workers and their families.

     We have also developed programs to address issues such as violence and psychological
      harassment, discrimination and racism, and ergonomic injuries.

     I believe that if we provide workers with decent working conditions, we create an
      environment that is conducive to innovation and productive work.

     This will in turn make our businesses more competitive and help us prepare our economies
      for better times to come.


     Labour issues also continue to feature prominently in Canada’s bilateral trade agenda.

     And the Government of Canada is actively working with other countries to achieve greater
      levels of international cooperation.

      Canada is committed to social justice, improved global working conditions, and respect for
       international labour rights and principles.

      Canadians recognize that economic growth cannot come at the expense of labour rights, and
       they have come to expect that strong labour provisions will be negotiated alongside free trade

      To this end, our Labour Cooperation Agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and
       Honduras include comprehensive labour provisions based on respect for ILO fundamental
       labour rights and principles.

      Canada is also currently negotiating free trade and labour cooperation agreements with the
       CARICOM and the Dominican Republic and is exploring the possibility of negotiating such
       agreements with more countries in the hemisphere.

      When these negotiations are completed, Canada will have established, through labour
       cooperation agreements, comprehensive and mutually binding labour obligations with nearly
       all of the countries represented in this room.

      These agreements, which include commitments to cooperative activities and technical
       assistance, will bring our involvement in the labour area with countries across the Americas
       to a whole new level. This represents an important element of the Government of Canada’s
       Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, which makes the region a key foreign policy
       priority for Canada.


      In September of last year, I traveled to Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, and had the
       opportunity to discuss international labour issues with some of you here at this meeting.

      Wherever possible, I met with employer and worker representatives to learn about the
       situation on the ground and listen to their perspective.

      It was an enriching experience and I welcome this further opportunity to exchange
       information on experiences and good practices, assess progress, and consider how best we
       can move forward to ensure a strong global recovery and sustained economic growth in our
       international labour community.

      I look forward to collaborating with my IACML colleagues to ensure prosperity for everyone
       in the years to come.

      Thank you.


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