This Earth Day, we look back on a year that was the hottest since records began, and on the winter just past as Canada’s warmest ever recorded. As we approach summer, we face again the prospect of wildfires, drought, extreme heat, violent storms, and poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke.

As the urgency of the climate crisis begins to encroach more on our daily lives, CUPE Ontario and the Climate Justice committee affirm that building our power as workers is key to creating a liveable world and integral to our advocacy for Indigenous rights and racial, gender and economic justice.

Decades ago, the right chose to support giant corporate powers over people and a safe, stable, liveable planet. They are still playing the climate against us today. Most recently, Conservative leaders from Pierre Poilievre to Doug Ford to Danielle Smith have chosen to demonize the so-called “carbon tax,” the federal program that puts a price on carbon pollution, while providing to most households a rebate that exceeds what they’ll pay in fuel charges.

Both CUPE Ontario and CUPE National have previously passed resolutions in favour of carbon pricing, but in truth, this is just one measure of many, including regulation and taxation on polluters, that we will need if we are going to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

But the right in this country sees in the climate crisis an opportunity to divide us. It seeks pit working people against each other by exploiting their legitimate concerns about risings prices and affordability and creating doubt and confusion about what must be done to ensure our collective future in a carbon-free world.

We mustn’t allow ourselves as workers to be suckered by the likes of Poilievre and Ford – whose own record on renewable energy, roads and transit is shameful – or by Liberals, who insist that the markets will solve the climate crisis.

As citizens, we must fight for investment in the resources that will help us to reach net zero. As trade unionists, we must heed the call for action to stop climate disaster and incorporate its challenges into our work as negotiators, organizers, leaders and educators.

CUPE Ontario’s Climate Justice committee recommends the following actions for locals, sectors and councils:

  • Adopt the CUPE Climate Change Emergency Declaration in your local.
  • Use Your Blueprint for Green Union, the Climate Justice committee’s action toolkit, which has resources, including bargaining resources, for union climate activists.
  • Listen to the CUPE Cast podcast, Climate Justice is Union Business.
  • Stay up to date with the joint work of the Climate Justice and Health and Safety committees to ensure safety under working conditions affected by poor air quality and extreme heat.
  • Learn more about the harmful impacts of Doug Ford’s government on the climate, including the plans for Highway 413, and join forces with local allies for action.
  • Attend local rallies against climate change and be sure to take your CUPE flag.
  • Invite a member from the Climate Justice Committee to speak with your local.

On Earth Day and every day, CUPE Ontario extends its solidarity to those workers on the front lines of tackling the climate crisis and fighting for climate justice for all.