TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, the United Steelworkers union (USW) joins people across Canada and around the world in honouring everyone who was lost to this terrible virus.
In recognizing the impact COVID-19 has had on all our lives, we look with hope to the shining light of vaccination at the end of the tunnel and recommit to continuing to fight to fill the gaps and fix the shortcomings in support, safety and equality this pandemic has exposed.
“Even though we’ve all felt the impact of COVID-19 in one way or another, we also know it has not hit us all equally. Over and over again, this pandemic has highlighted inequality in our country and we’ve seen how poor government decisions have left some workers, families and entire communities to be hit much harder,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
“As we mourn the terrible loss of life we’ve seen over the last year and reflect on the impact of the pandemic, we know the work is even more urgent to fight for the changes we need to make workers safer and our country fairer.”
In Canada alone, 22,000 people have lost their lives and about 900,000 people have been infected by COVID-19. Many of these frontline and essential workers were women, racialized workers, and young people. They often work in part-time and precarious work.
“While Canadians have been told to do their part by staying home, many workers across the country have not had that choice. They had to go to work to keep us healthy and fed and keep supply chains intact,” said Neumann.
“These workers and all those who can’t afford to stay away from work need more than kind words from the federal Liberal government and politicians across the country. They need legislated paid sick leave, enforcement of safer working conditions, an end to structural discrimination and all workers need to know they can exercise their right to refuse unsafe work without the threat of losing their jobs.”
Many thousands of Canadians have also lost their jobs and now face the hardship of economic uncertainty. Women workers have particularly borne the brunt of the pandemic, through a continually unequal distribution of household labour and uneven job loss which hit female workers harder.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the USW has been pushing for comprehensive protections for workers on the job and paid sick leave – both at the bargaining table and on the legislative front.
The USW represents 225,000 members in Canada in nearly every sector of the economy.