Policy Commentary

Reflections on Labour Day

As the clock winds down on another summer and families get ready for another year of school, it can be easy to lose sight of just what Labour Day really means. This year more than ever, it is important for ACFO to reflect on its changing role in the greater labour landscape.

Over the past few months and years, ACFO has forged relationships with groups with common interests in the greater labour movement both at home and abroad; groups with whom we’ve been able to work on issues of great significance to Canadians and, indeed, the global population. Issues such as the decaying of the middle class, the increasing wealth gap and the erosion of workers’ rights around the world are issues that affect us all. We’ve truly found our voice on the global stage in recent months and the good work and strong reputation of the FI Community is what gives us the credibility to speak on these matters.

What’s become clear to me as we’ve built these relationships is that ACFO does have a role to play in the greater movement. Not only do we speak with credibility we also stand to gain as a community. Strengthening this international credibility and sense of community has become increasingly important as, at home in Canada, public servants and their representatives come under attack in advance of the most challenging round of collective bargaining we have ever faced.

Historically we have been able to maintain a healthy relationship with Treasury Board based on a spirit of collaboration and a mutual respect for the professionalism of all involved. We’ve largely been able to avoid the rhetoric and nastiness that often defines labour-management relationships because we’ve been able to make a convincing case for the value of the FI Community to a government willing to listen.

We would love nothing more than to carry on our tradition of collaboration but it requires a commitment from both sides. A commitment we can no longer count on receiving. This time around the deck has been stacked against us before we could even begin discussions: draconian legislation aimed at weakening our ability to represent you; campaigns of misinformation about sick leave aimed at vilifying public servants in the media; and treating proposed “wellness” strategies as a fait d’accompli before ever sitting down to talk.

These measures have all been carried out in service of a so-called austerity agenda, itself part of the broader growth of crony capitalism and corruption that we’ve joined our international partners in fighting. Closing tax loopholes and ending exploitative offshoring practices won’t just combat wealth inequality, they will allow the federal government to collect the tax revenues it is owed. More money in the public purse means more money for public services – services our aging population desperately need.

So as we mark the end of summer and the beginning of another school year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the importance of defending public services as part of the broader labour movement. We’ve seen time and time again that when the labour movement is weakened, public services are sure to follow. And when public services are made secondary to corporate interests, we all lose.

ACFO has formed partnerships with like-minded organizations around the world because we’ve seen what good can come when we work together to protect the values we know Canadians hold dear. The road ahead won’t always be easy but by standing together and supporting one another, the FI Community and, indeed, the broader population will benefit.

Milt Isaacs, CPA, CMA, CPFA
President, Association of Canadian Financial Officers

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