Many of us can remember where we were and what we were doing on March 11, 2020, the day that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
The pandemic has been tragic for Canada. We have lost too many lives to this virus – too many preventable deaths, particularly amongst vulnerable seniors in long-term care, the workers who care for them and other workers who have been deemed essential, but not adequately protected.
On the anniversary of the pandemic, we recognize its inequality – that too many of those hailed as heroes are working for poverty wages, without paid sick days or the benefit of union representation. We recognize that record-breaking job losses have devastated individuals, families, industries and family businesses. Yet, corporations continue to reward greed through executive bonuses and massive profits while cutting pandemic pay for those who need it the most.
We recognize that frontline workers and those in the essential jobs that have kept our world going tend to be women, racialized workers, and young people – retail workers, personal support workers, health-care workers, security guards, food processing and agricultural workers, transit and delivery workers, childcare and education workers and so many more. These public-facing roles also have a higher likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 – another way the pandemic has been unequal and unfair.
Workers and unions led the charge to help all workers in the crisis by pushing governments to bring in supports – and successfully argued for enhancements and extensions – for those experiencing a sudden loss of income from job loss or reduced hours some who will not be returning to work in the near future.
As workers and proud members of the labour movement, we intend to build a better future. We will push for a future that is inclusive and fair, that lifts people up, pays decent wages, reduces inequities, and ends racism. We will push for a future that is inclusive and fair, that lifts people up, pays decent wages, reduces inequities, and ends racism. We are committed to a future that is healthy and safe.
United, let’s build the future!