June 16th, 2024

We have an opportunity to shape our communities

By Letter to the Editor on September 9, 2021.

Every year on Labour Day, Canada’s unions celebrate the contributions of workers across the country. In past years, the Lethbridge and District Labour Council hosted a community BBQ to mark the day. In light of COVID restrictions, this year we have chosen to contribute our labour and money to the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, YWCA, Sage Clan and Safe Haven Women’s Shelter Society in Taber.
We know the pandemic has laid bare existing inequality here in Canada, exacerbating housing instability, food insecurity and the opioid crisis. Furthermore, long-standing issues impacting low-income workers, mainly in marginalized communities, have been exposed. Workers have had to fight for access to appropriate, effective protective equipment, COVID-safe practices at work, paid sick leave and respect for their basic health and safety rights.
A spotlight was shone on frontline workers who receive low pay and have few (if any) benefits, including paid sick days. These workers kept us fed, healthy, housed and supported during one of the most significant economic and social upheavals in recent memory. They did all of this while risking their own health and safety, and that of their families.
As we recover from COVID-19, we must ensure that we do not return to the status quo. Canada’s unions are calling for improvements as we start to move out of the pandemic. Workers must be at the heart of any pandemic recovery plan for it to be truly successful.
In the lead up to the federal election on September 20 and the municipal election on October 18, all workers – whether they are unionized or not – must hold political leaders accountable. Leaders must create the conditions for a more equitable next phase of the pandemic so that low-income and minority workers are not forced to make an impossible choice between surviving financially or surviving the virus. Our elected leaders should have answers on how they plan to support workers and their families, in both the short and long term.
Without workers, there is no recovery. That must be our message — on Labour Day and beyond.
Krysty Thomas
Lethbridge and District Labour Council President

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