2020 has been a year when workers and the labour movement were more active than ever. Teachers’ unions, health-care unions, unions representing grocery workers and workers in packing plants, workers’ rights organizations, which work with the many vulnerable workers deemed essential during this crisis, and other unions were key partners in crafting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
Here is a roundup of some of the amazing fights unions have been leading.
Worker supports during COVID-19 and employment insurance reforms: Unions, workers’ rights organizations and the Canadian Labour Federation were integral to the shaping and extension of CERB and CEWS. As these benefits were phased out, the unions also demanded and got long overdue changes to employment insurance. Many workers still need protections, and so we must keep fighting to continue to expand these benefits for all people who work in Canada.
Education: Ever since the election of Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta, teachers have been fighting for the future of education. In these interviews, Jason Schilling of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and Harvey Bischof of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation talk about their fights to stop the gutting of public education. Now that schools are re-opening again, here is a province-by-province look at the fights being mounted by unions to keep everyone in our schools and communities safe.
Food industry: Many of the workers who help put food on our tables were deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of us noticed the conditions under which they work. Unions and workers’ rights organizations stood with workers to demand improvements to working conditions. We still have a lot of work to do.
Long-term care: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rabble.ca‘s former labour beat reporter Zaid Noorsumar shined a light on the problems in the home-care and long-term care sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately made us all start to pay attention to the disastrous impact of privatized care. Workers have been at the forefront, demanding change in the long-term care sector.
2020 has laid bare the crises brewing in prisons, hospitals, policing and across almost every industry in Canada. We thank workers for organizing and leading the way. We will continue to stand with them.
Image: Joe deSousa/Flickr