Put People First, Demand Over 150 Canadian Organizations with the Launch of Six Principles for a Just Recovery

Just Recovery for All

As governments prepare recovery plans amidst the COVID-19 crisis, an informal alliance of over 150 civil society groups, representing collective memberships of millions in Canada, are demanding these plans move us toward a more equitable and sustainable future, with the release, today, of six Principles for a Just Recovery.

United in support of the Principles, endorsing organizations span sectors and communities across the country, including the Canadian Labour Congress, Indigenous Climate Action, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec and the Canadian Health Coalition.

Their message for governments: recovery efforts must support the transition to a more equitable, sustainable and diversified economy, and not entrench outdated economic and social systems that jeopardize the health and wellbeing of people, worsen the climate crisis, or perpetuate the exploitation or oppression of people.

The COVID crisis has revealed the primary importance of the health and safety of all people, as a human rights and collective wellbeing issue. Relief efforts so far have shown that things we’ve been told aren’t possible, actually are once we prioritize them.

“The choices we make now about how to recover from this pandemic will shape not only our health and economic future, but also the future of human life on this planet. We need public investments to help meet our commitment to limit global warming, by developing renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, supporting struggling public transit systems and ensuring a just transition for workers and their communities. We must prioritize investing in things that create much needed good jobs,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff.

The Principles, in brief, ask that recovery plans:

  • Put people’s health and wellbeing first, no exceptions.
  • Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people.
  • Prioritize the needs of workers and communities.
  • Build resilience to prevent future crises.
  • Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders
  • Uphold Indigenous Rights and Work in Partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

“Indigenous rights and sovereignty must be the foundation upon which every aspect of Just Recovery is built. Throughout the recovery process, Indigenous Peoples must be at the table, as should voices from all structurally oppressed communities," said Lindsey Bacigal of Indigenous Climate Action. "Prior to the pandemic, Indigenous communities were already in crisis due to a lack of infrastructure, health and social services and the current situation will only deepen these inequalities. To address this historical injustice, it is essential that Indigenous Peoples have access to adequate resources that revitalize the health, well-being and sovereignty of our communities.”

Endorsing groups will pursue specific policy recommendations, aligned with the Principles.

“The huge collaborative effort that brought these principles to life over many weeks of rich, challenging discussions exemplifies the kind of action we expect of political leaders as we move through this crisis,” explained Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada. “It’s going to take a massive and diverse community of voices to encourage governments to be bold in the face of corporate lobbies, and to put people and communities first,” Abreu continued. “Our goal was to capture the immense amount of care work happening throughout Canadian civil society right now and present a vision of a Just Recovery that leaves no one behind. We know this is a vision the majority of Canadians support, and millions of people are ready to take action.”

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadians asked by EKOS Research earlier this month supported a “broad transformation of our society” resulting from COVID-inspired reformations.

“We recognize the enormous challenge and responsibility facing governments. We also see a critical opportunity for leaders to seize the courage required to lead us through this moment to a better world. We’ll be doing our part to ensure the people are behind them,” said Claire Gallagher, from the independent citizens’ advocacy group, Leadnow.

Today’s launch marks the beginning of independent and collaborative efforts by participating organizations to urge all levels of government to deliver a transformational Just Recovery for all people. For a growing list of endorsers, please visit justrecoveryforall.ca.

Media contacts:

French release and contacts here.

Full text of the English Just Recovery Principles found here.

Full list of endorsers found here.

Additional spokespeople available for media:

  • Lindsey Bacigal, Indigenous Climate Action
  • Anjali Appadurai, Sierra Club B.C.
  • Natalie Appleyard, Citizens for Public Justice
  • Dr. Courtney Howard, CAPE
  • Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians
  • Amara Possian, 350 Canada
  • Caroline Brouillette, Équiterre
  • Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada
  • Kim Perrotta, CHASE

Additional quotes:

“If we are to have any hope of ensuring a climate-just future, we will learn from this pandemic that it is people – not oil companies – that deserve a helping hand. We have a chance, through a Just Recovery, to build resilient, strong, equitable communities that can withstand the challenges ahead.”
~Anjali Appadurai, Sierra Club B.C., [email protected], 604-328-6443

“Our target during this pandemic has been to eliminate all cases of COVID-19 in Canada and to build our resilience to future health crises. We cannot do this without addressing the social and environmental determinants of health. Eradicating poverty, core housing insecurity, and food insecurity must be pursued with equal ambition. These are not matters of charity, but of public health and justice.”
~ Natalie Appleyard, Citizens for Public Justice, [email protected], 613-552-3439

"We've been disrupted. From what I see in the ER, we're feeling this moment in our minds, in decreased ability to sleep, and in our bodies, in tension headaches and heart palpitations. We're mourning. To feel safe, we need to manage two planetary health emergencies at once--COVID-19 and its economic fallout, and climate change.  We've shown that when pressed, we prioritize health. We take care of one another. We have a generational opportunity to use this time of crisis and reflection to bring to life a vision of planetary health for all. We've stayed home to save lives. By working together on a just and healthy recovery--we'll save more."
~ Dr. Courtney Howard, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, [email protected]

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more fair, sustainable and just Canada so it works for everyone, not just the few. People across the country are rising up for a Just Recovery, one that invests in people instead of corporations, creates millions of jobs and builds a thriving green economy that puts our health first.”
~ Claire Gallagher, Leadnow, [email protected]

“The pandemic has exposed and entrenched the deep inequities of our existing system and left us with a pathway to leave these injustices behind.  The 1% are looking to profit from this crisis, and a just recovery will protect the rest of us by addressing the interconnected crises we face, including the climate emergency. We need a just recovery for communities that ends these injustices by laying the foundations for a Green New Deal.”
~ Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians, [email protected], 613-795-8685

“We can't solve one crisis by making another one worse. A Just Recovery is our best chance to come together, all across this country, and build an economy that takes care of people and our planet. The choices we make now will shape our society for decades to come.”
~ Amara Possian, 350 Canada, [email protected], 416-444-6811

“The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our society. How will we respond to the next crises? Passively and improvising through an emergency, or by working together in solidarity to increase our resilience? We have the choice. When it comes to climate change, a recovery guided by these principles will help us flatten another curve... the GHG curve."
~ Caroline Brouillette, Équiterre, [email protected]

“The best way to honour the lives that have been lost and disrupted by the pandemic is to ensure that we are building a future that provides better livelihoods – and consumes and wastes less materials and energy. We can honour people's sacrifices by not sacrificing more of the planet, and more lives and livelihoods, in the interests of the 1%.”
~ Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected], (613) 761-2273

“With the investments needed to recover from COVID-19, we have the opportunity to create a new future for our children; one that is healthy, sustainable and equitable. We could ensure that some good is born from the grief, suffering and loss caused by COVID-19.”
~ Kim Perrotta, CHASE, [email protected]

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