Every year, on April 28, we pause to mourn and recognize workers who have been injured and killed on the job. And while we remember we also understand the fundamental importance of the political work of fighting for the living by redoubling our efforts to demand real safety for workers and the communities that rely on their services.

No one should be at risk of death or injury while on the job. But today, amid our second Day of Mourning in the grips of COVID-19, workers are more endangered than ever.

Ontario is in yet another state of emergency. Our hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. Our ICU beds are at near-capacity and our healthcare workers are approaching critical burn out.

CUPE members in schools and universities are dealing with keeping their important work going while dealing with the lack of any action by the province to ensure their work, and their students, are safe. Childcare workers, Mental Health and Additions Workers, and all of our members in Social Services continue to help our communities through the growing stress of COVID-19 while trying to keep themselves and those they support safe. And our municipal workers are keeping our communities moving forward even as the province’s lack of action has us all feeling like we’re moving backward.

This third wave isn’t like previous ones. It’s even more disproportionately crashing on the backs of front-line workers.

CUPE Ontario members – on the frontlines throughout health care, social services, municipalities, schools and universities – are among so many workers who’ve needlessly died and have needlessly gotten sick on the job.

In the face of this, our supposed political leadership has failed us.

Not long ago, after releasing new and startling modelling numbers for Ontario, Ontarians were on the edge of their seats waiting for a commitment to deliver what we need to stay safe.

Instead, we got nothing but measures like the closure of playgrounds and enhanced police powers – measures that completely ignored the advice of the government’s own Science Advisory Table, and serve to try to shift the blame to individuals when we know it’s the Ford Conservatives who are failing us all.

Measures that yet again ignored the growing and increasingly united chorus of health experts, community organizations, unions like ours, and everyday Ontarians – calling for paid sick leave, enhanced vaccination for all front line workers, and an end to enhanced police powers.

But the tide is changing. The majority of our neighbours and friends agree we need action. It’s time for us to ramp up our efforts in the recognition that we are part of a growing chorus which will push government to do what’s necessary.

On April 28, the Day of Mourning, we are encouraging all CUPE members across the province to observe a moment of silence while at work in recognition of workers who have been killed or injured on the job and in protest of the government’s failure to protect us all from COVID-19.

We are demanding paid sick days for all workers, vaccinations for all frontline workers, paid time off from work for vaccination, an immediate end to any enhanced police powers, and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

This is a turning point in the history of our province. More people than ever are recognizing that front-line workers have kept Ontarians safe and have ensured that our communities continue to function.

With this growing appreciation, more people are also recognizing the seriousness of the failures and the political cowardice of the Ford Conservatives.

On the Day of Mourning and beyond, let’s continue to ramp up the pressure on this government to deliver what we need to stay safe and to fully, and equitably, recover.

Find out how you can take part in the Day of Action for the Day of Mourning: https://cupe.on.ca/dayofmourning/

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