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Unions, businesses ready for premiers meeting in Saskatoon

Union leaders are in Saskatoon holding parallel meetings to the one Canada’s premiers will hold later this week.

Representatives from a number of Canada’s federations of labour are discussing how Canadian workers are faring across the country.

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“We know that right now it’s a crisis situation for people that work in our province and across the province and we know that other provinces are feeling the same way. The federations of labour are working hard to make sure the voices of working people are heard,” Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Lori Johb said.

Many at the table agree that workers issues are similar coast-to-coast-to-coast.

“We represent workers in some of the provinces where they have higher minimum wages, so we learn from them. We’ve made some legislative gains in our own province. We share that,” Newfoundland’s Mary Shortall said.

The business community is also preparing for the premiers meeting this week.

A handful of topics are top of mind including Indigenous engagement and interprovincial trade.

“Every government for probably the last 20 to 30 years has said we’re going to fix this interprovincial trade challenge. They haven’t yet. Full credit to the efforts that have been taken, but we need to get more strident. So when we have all of the premiers in a room, that’s one of the conversations business will be bringing to the table,” Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McLellan said.

The federations of labour are holding this conference alongside the premiers’ meeting because it gives them a chance to invite leaders from across the country to hear about Canadian workers issues.

Saskatchewan’s president said it also allows open communication between labour leaders and a chance for them to be on the same page for national and provincial concerns.

“In Saskatchewan particularly, while we have the worst minimum wage in Canada, it’s important for us to talk about that and how we can raise the minimum wage and work together. We’ve seen successes in other provinces, so we’re talking about how that’s working,” Johb added.

The federation of labour meeting runs until Thursday, the same as Canada’s premiers.

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