A Labour Day message from Society of United Professionals President Scott Travers
Monday is Labour Day and, like so many other things during a pandemic, this Labour Day will be different than in years past. This year there are physically distanced activities and virtual parades. But what stays the same is our commitment to celebrate workers’ contributions to our province and push for better so we can all withstand whatever comes next in this pandemic.
As workers, we have so much to be proud this year. Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop Society members from keeping Ontario’s lights on and courts operating. These were trying times that called for extraordinary changes to how we have long operated but Society members were equal to the challenge. We saw the same spirit from health care workers, grocery store clerks and so many others.
Even though we can look south of the border and know things could be going so much worse, many of our fellow Ontarians have not made it through the pandemic unscathed. As of this writing, 2,809 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario. Some have died or suffered infections through their work. More than half of Ontario deaths happened in long-term care homes, showing a glaring weakness in our province. More than a million Ontarians lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands more had their hours of work reduced. More than 3.4 million Ontarians needed to access Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments.
While Ontario has seen our COVID-19 cases drop dramatically, the experts say we need to be ready for a second wave of infections this fall. That is why the Society is joining with the rest of Canada’s labour movement to advocate for the Forward Together plan that will shore up what proved to be our weaknesses in the first wave and position the country for economic prosperity once COVID-19 is truly behind us.
Forward Together: A Canadian Plan seeks to:
- Replace lost jobs with better ones by hiring people to transition Canada to a low-carbon economy, educate our young people, and help us care for one another
- Strengthen Canadian public health care by making long-term care for seniors and prescription drugs part of medicare
- Disaster-proof our social safety net so a strong employment insurance program, accessible childcare and strong community services are available when the next economic disaster hits
- Pay for these changes by recognizing that the wealthiest among us made record profits during the pandemic and should pay their fair share to help Canada as a whole recover and prosper
The Canadian Labour Congress will officially launch Forward Together will officially launch on Labour Day. Click here to sign-up to participate in the live-streamed launch on Facebook. The Society will share much more about Forward Together and how to support this plan in the coming days.
As part of pushing for a just and inclusive recovery from the pandemic, the Society is also joining the Toronto and York Region Labour Council’s advertising campaign on local buses using the money we usually spend on Labour Day activities. So keep an eye out on TTC and York Region Transit buses for the Society’s logo!
I wish you and yours a safe and enjoyable Labour day.