Protesting wage and price controls in Saskatchewan
In October 1977, Statistics Canada reports the annual inflation rate is 8.8 per cent -- a 17-month high.
• Wage and price controls were seen as a way to control escalating inflation. Despite having spoken out against such a measure in the 1974 election campaign, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's Liberals reversed their policy and ushered in controls with Bill C-73. It passed on Oct. 14, 1975. • Many Canadian workers objected to wage control because it limited their earning potential while there were virtually no limits on corporations' profits.
• The bill that workers were protesting, C-73, also took away the unions' right to collective bargaining. It limited wage increases to eight per cent the first year, six per cent the second year and four per cent the third year. Any union agreement negotiated after the passage of C-73 with higher wage increases could be rolled back to meet the government's numbers.
• The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour was particularly vocal in opposing the law, organizing a 4,000-strong protest in February 1976.• On Oct. 14, 1976 — one year after the bill's passage — workers declared a Day of Protest. One million of them, and their supporters across Canada, went on a one-day strike to protest wage and price controls.
• In September 1977 the government of Saskatchewan announced it was opting out of the federal wage-control program for provincial employees. Workers in that province demonstrated again — as seen in this clip — to continue to show the federal government their opposition to wage controls.• Wage and price controls, as well as other measures of the Anti-Inflation Board, were gradually phased out in 1978.
Program: 24 Hours
Broadcast Date: Oct. 17, 1977
Solidarity Forever lyrics: Ralph Chaplin.
Last updated: February 9, 2012
Page consulted on December 5, 2013
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