No one can argue that the pandemic has not upended every aspect of our lives, but I hope this letter finds you healthy and strong.
Like many, COVID-19 has consumed my life over the past year, and it still remains a pressing concern for people in Canada and around the world. As a nurse, I am hopeful that brighter days are ahead – but it will take time. As a union leader, I know how much work will be needed to rebuild our communities. The pandemic has revealed the flaws and vulnerabilities in our economy, in our public services and in the way workers are treated, among other things. Addressing the challenges and stark inequities that COVID-19 has exacerbated will require the combined experience and expertise of us all.
Having said this, the primary issue that keeps me awake at night is the state of Canada’s health care system. What will our precious Canadian public health care – already stretched thin before the pandemic – look like once the emergency measures are lifted? Simply put, it will be sick and tired, just like the nurses and staff who have been holding it up on their backs this past year. With this huge challenge in front of us, I must stay focused on supporting Canada’s nurses, who have put their faith and trust in me to lead them for the last 18 years.
I remain proudly and staunchly committed to our house of labour, but I won’t be the one leading it after its next convention. It is with some sadness but renewed resolve that I announce I am withdrawing my candidacy to become the next president of the Canadian Labour Congress. This decision has been difficult after dedicating nearly two decades to the work of the Congress, serving on its Executive Committee and Canadian Council, and working hard, as honestly and inclusively as possible, to advance our shared goals. I remain immensely proud of our collective work.
To my many supporters I simply say: thank you. Thank you for your generosity and support, and for joining me in the belief that, together, we could take big steps forward to build a stronger labour movement. Our work is not done. We have proven that the definition of essential workers goes much farther than health care. We have proven that unions – no matter the sector – are stronger when we work together. It will be an honor to continue working alongside truck drivers, educators, electricians, construction workers, postal workers, public servants and all health care staff. Together we cannot fail in holding our governments to account, strengthening and making whole our house of labour, and improving the lives of every worker in Canada.
When I launched my election campaign, I said: Je suis prête. I am still ready, but the challenge before me, before us all, has changed fundamentally. Nurses and health care workers need a strong and experienced hand to press for critically-needed change. I have dedicated my life to improving nurses’ work and our public health care system, and today is not the day for me to change lanes. Simply put, I cannot in good conscience abandon this fight to fix Canada’s health care system in the middle of an ongoing pandemic.
To every union member, every affiliate, the new leadership of the CLC and its amazing staff team, I can promise you that I’ll never be more than a Zoom call away. As the proud president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, I will always be on your side.
Stay safe, friends.
In unwavering solidarity,
President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions