Labour Day is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the achievements of working people in this country, while focusing on the efforts needed to ensure a better future in which everyone is included.
The rights that Canadians enjoy today were not achieved without struggle. Things we might now take for granted such as the eight-hour workday, health and safety rules, sick leave, health care, parental benefits, pensions and equality rights were won by organized labour in workplaces and then expanded into public policies and programs. Unions have also fought to create and defend the things we think of as “the commons” – public transit, public water, public health care and a social safety net for those less fortunate in our society.
Today, the impacts of the COVID-19 have affected millions – people have lost jobs, lost income, and are facing tremendous pressure to keep their families healthy and safe. The pandemic has laid bare the underlying problems of poverty wages, job precarity, and systemic racism that hurts us all. Frontline workers in education, hospitals and seniors’ homes and service industries have had to organize collectively to demand conditions that keep us all healthy.
As many Canadians struggle in this COVID-19-impacted economy, we must find a better way forward. We need to create jobs in the transition to a more just and sustainable way of living that prepares us for the ongoing climate crisis and for more COVID-19-related impacts. We must urgently consider how we will build strong communities, create decent jobs, and address the reality of systemic racism in our society. The Council of Canadians has worked with our allies to identify what is needed for A Just Recovery for All – and we will be campaigning along with Canada’s unions to turn these ideas into reality.
As history has shown, workers organizing will always be central to answering these pressing questions because they strengthen society for us all. Labour is fighting for things such as universal pharmacare, fair trade deals, universal childcare, expanded sick leave, and for the right to retire with dignity, to name a few. These are struggles for rights and laws that benefit all Canadians and are part of the brighter future we can create together.
The Council of Canadians has consistently stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and friends in the labour movement. This Labour Day, we encourage everyone to recognize and celebrate the efforts of working people to win social and economic justice in Canada and around the world. Together, we can win a better world.