Labour Day is always an important celebration when we recognize the progress that workers have made over the years. Together, we have come far in our efforts to ensure safe and healthy work, fair compensation, job security and crucial benefits that lift us all.
Like so much about 2020, this Labour Day is different. Our workplaces, communities and families have all been impacted by a devastating global pandemic.
Millions of people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Frontline workers in our health system, postal service and grocery stores have faced unacceptable risks, too often in conditions and for compensation that belies the importance of their role. The pandemic has laid bare the gaps and weaknesses in Canada’s social safety net, health care system and economy. It has shown us how important yet undervalued many workers are, from the truck drivers transporting our goods to the public servants working around the clock to process millions of emergency benefit claims.
There are many lessons to be learned and much work to do.
Yet, as we look around the world, it is clear that we are fortunate. People in Canada have shown our unity by following the guidance of experts and focusing on weathering this storm together.
There is another reason to be hopeful. Amidst the upheaval facing us is a unique opportunity. We have the chance to rebuild a better, stronger and more resilient Canada. We need a Canadian plan that draws on the strength of our unity, our willingness to care for one another.
This Labour Day, Canada’s nurses join the Canadian Labour Congress, committing to move Forward Together. We need to replace lost jobs with better ones, investing in green infrastructure and a cleaner future. We need to strengthen our health care by making long-term care public, hiring more staff to meet growing needs and introducing prescription drug coverage for all. We need to disaster-proof our social safety net so no one is left behind.
The days of big business and the ultra-wealthy profiting at the expense of average families must come to an end. It’s past time that everyone pays their fair share, supporting a stable and resilient society that will benefit us all.
It’s an ambitious agenda, but unprecedented times call for nothing less. With a powerful vision and a clear path, we can get there. I know, without a doubt, that together working people can move forward to realize the future our children deserve.
In unwavering solidarity,
President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions