On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members in the public sector take this moment to connect our local struggle with the ones facing so many people around the world.

We’re in the middle of an unprecedented global crisis. It’s one that has left over a million dead and 40 million people with cases of COVID-19. It’s also led to an economic crisis beyond measure. On both front – the health and the economic – the people who have felt the brunt of the crisis are those who were already marginalized and disempowered. A disproportionate number of racialized communities, women, immigrants, and low-income people have been impacted by COVID-19 and its consequences.

While corporations made more money than ever, everyday people were plunged into poverty, the result of government inaction and indifference. While wealthier people were able to weather the economic storm, everyday people faced cuts to critical social services, evictions, job losses, and employment insurance rates that don’t go far enough.

Right here in Ontario, we’ve seen that the crisis has made migrant workers, Black communities disproportionately made up of front-line workers, and precariously employed and poorly paid personal support workers more vulnerable than ever.

The system has simply failed. We need investments to prevent poverty and to put us on a better track. We need to raise Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program rates. We need to address the low wage and precarious nature of work in long-term care, childcare, home care, and shelters settings. And we need to raise the corporate income tax to pay for this and so much more.

A health crisis might be something that just emerges – but how we handle it is up to us. We need to collectively mobilize to ensure that no one is pushed into, or kept in, poverty when we have another way we can always take.