Labour Day 2020: Pandemic edition

It’s time for a new deal for working people

Normally on Labour Day, people come together to celebrate the contributions of workers and all the important ways that workers keep everyone safe and healthy.

But this year, to keep everyone safe and healthy, there will be no gatherings or public celebrations. Instead, let’s recognize that at every level of response to this pandemic, it’s the workers who are getting us through.

Not the politicians. Not the billionaires. Not the corporations.


This includes migrant workers who are essential to our food system. It’s often migrant workers who grow our food, process our food, work in and clean our grocery stores, and deliver our food — while living in fear about making complaints regarding their working conditions. They deserve better.

It’s the Canadian Food Inspection Agency workers who ensure the food on our table is safe while dealing with budget cuts and difficult working conditions during this pandemic. These PSAC members also deserve better.

It’s the workers at Loblaws and Sobeys who are keeping us fed and supplied in this pandemic even after their “hero” pay was cut back. They deserve better.

It’s the health care workers who are showing up to the front line every day despite the lack of protective gear and a provincial government that intends to undermine their basic collective rights in Ford’s latest power-grab and attack on workers. They deserve better.

And who could forget the incredible feat that PSAC members pulled off getting CERB up and running. Our members at the Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada continue to step up to ensure Canadians are supported throughout this pandemic by processing CERB and EI payments—because our members know how disruptive it is to not get paid on time.

The pandemic has shown that decades of cuts to public services made us more vulnerable when disaster strikes. Cuts to hospitals and schools, the privatization of public services and the slow erosion of our Employment Insurance program caught up to us. We can’t afford to keep ignoring these failures.

This Labour Day, let’s learn our lessons from the pandemic to prepare for our future. We need to disaster-proof our social safety net.

It’s time for pharmacare now. Child care now. It’s time to fix long-term care. It’s time for paid sick leave for all. It’s time to replace the minimum wage with a living wage. We need to strengthen our public services and invest in future generations.

Working people united have the power to make these changes.

How do we pay for it?

By raising taxes on the ultra-rich who profit off the pandemic. Let’s have the wealthiest pay their fair share and use that money to help our communities recover and build a fairer and more prosperous country.

We have a chance to fix the public services we’ve been neglecting while also finally getting a national child care program, a national pharmacare program, and building our social safety net so that we can come out of this pandemic stronger. Together.

This Labour Day, let’s celebrate workers. Let’s stand up for workers. Let’s move forward together and fight for a new deal for working people.

Who’s got the power?

Alex Silas is the Regional Executive Vice-President for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, National Capital Region