Hello Union Family!
As we reach the end of a very challenging year, Team Unite wants to share some thoughts on the events of 2020, as well as our vision for 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted communities across Canada, and workers have been at the forefront of the crisis. Whether you work in healthcare, education, retail, security, food production, or any other job, all workers have been affected by this pandemic.
The coronavirus has exposed inequities in our society, particularly for those working in low-wage jobs. While many of these jobs are critical to helping our society function, they are undervalued by employers and our political leaders. For low-wage workers, benefits like paid sick time, consistent scheduling, and regular wage increases are not a reality. That is why we must push governments at all levels to pass better minimum wage laws, legislate consistent scheduling practices, and enact paid sick leave.
The pandemic has also shown us the consequences of underfunding and understaffing public sector services. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our healthcare systems and public health departments. Our healthcare workers have been stretched past exhaustion trying to ensure that we have the health services we need.
Public health departments are conducting contact tracing with limited staff and are having to rely on private companies to fill the gaps. Municipalities are enforcing emergency orders and are taking care of those who are homeless or unemployed, while facing critical budget shortfalls. This is not how we should be responding to a crisis. We must push for proper funding for staffing levels to ensure that we have a robust and trained public sector that we can draw on in times of need.
As well, the countless COVID-19 outbreaks and tragic deaths in personal care homes show that private, for-profit care has no place in long-term care. We must ensure that there is a universal, Canada-wide standard for levels of care. We must also push for higher wages and full-time positions in care homes, so that workers don’t have to work in multiple homes to survive.
Amidst all these struggles, we see provincial governments in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario using the pandemic to launch attacks on workers with new anti-labour legislation. We must prepare for and respond to these attacks by building a highly engaged labour movement that can fight back against anti-worker laws at every turn.
That means building coalitions, supporting one another, and reaching out to all workers, unionized or not. It can’t be “us” or “them,” it has to be “we.” This will require finding new ways to reach out to workers and coming together to push the needs of working people to the forefront of our national political agenda.
Team Unite is ready for this important work, and we look forward to engaging with you throughout 2021 as we work to unite Canada’s labour movement. Together, let’s build the future we all want.