Toronto – December 23, 2020 – As we reach the end of this unprecedented year, and await what lies ahead in the coming months, it is natural for us to look back on 2020 and reflect on how our union responded to the enormous challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining hope for a strong recovery in 2021 and beyond.
From the moment the pandemic hit, UFCW Canada members rose to the occasion by serving on the front lines of the crisis, providing the vital health care, long-term care, home care, and security services that Canadians rely on to stay healthy and safe, and keeping food on the nation’s tables by sustaining our agriculture, food manufacturing, and meat processing sectors, while ensuring grocery stores are open, stocked, and safe.
UFCW Canada’s National Office and Local Unions also took immediate action to protect the health and safety of members on the front lines. This included working with the federal and provincial governments, as well as employers in UFCW core industries, to secure personal protective equipment (PPE), plexiglass barriers, safety signage, and customer limits in grocery stores, and modified work stations, increased breaks, and slower line speeds in the food manufacturing and meat processing sectors.
As well, UFCW Local Unions acted quickly in negotiating premium pay and enhanced safety measures for members across the country, while working hard to address members’ fears and concerns as we continued to learn more about the coronavirus. In addition, UFCW Canada and its Local Unions launched multiple campaigns in support of frontline members, including our Protect Farm Workers, Show Your Support for Frontline Workers, and Help Food Processing Workers initiatives.
Our union also developed several resources detailing public health measures concerning COVID-19, as well as income supports available to UFCW members and family members who have been impacted by the virus. And now, UFCW Canada is fighting hard to make sure that frontline workers are given priority during Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as well as permanent premium pay going forward.
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, there is much to be hopeful for, and relief from this pandemic is likely around the corner. But we will need to remain diligent in our calls for health, safety, and fairness for frontline workers and their families to ensure that Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 is a just and fair one.
On behalf of UFCW Canada, I would like to thank all frontline workers for your incredible and courageous work throughout this entire year and extend my best wishes to you and your family this holiday season. I wish you a happy, prosperous, and healthy 2021.
Paul R. Meinema