Pandemic issues will top the agenda at virtual Labour Day
Speeches to stream online in lieu of parade and picnic
For the first time in anyone's memory there won't be a Labour Day parade or picnic in Windsor this year.
The festivities have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, the Windsor and District Labour Council will host a virtual Labour Day observance on its website and Facebook page.
"There will be pre-recorded speeches. They'll go up on Labour Day," said council president Brian Hogan.
Other information, including as photos from past Labour Days and information about the importance of the labour movement will go up on Aug. 31.
Hogan said he as well as Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy, Unifor Local 200 president John D'Agnolo, Unifor Local 2458 president Tulio DiPonti and Windsor West MP Brian Masse will be among the speakers. A half-hour package of the speeches will also be broadcast on Cogeco Cable 11 YourTV .
Hogan said demands for an auto strategy, green economy and racism will be among the topics but issues related to the pandemic will top the agenda.
Pandemic exposed 'cracks in society'
Hogan said the labour movement is calling on government to step in to fill the "cracks in society" exposed by the pandemic, including protection for frontline workers, reforming the long-term care system and improving conditions for migrant farm workers.
"We need an overhaul of the long term care. We need universal public pharmacare," said Hogan. "They've characterized the pandemic as the great equalizer and that's not true. The most marginalized people have been hurt."
Justice for Migrant Workers is partnering with caterToronto for a Migrant Workers' Day of Digital Action on Labour Day as well.
One of the planned speakers is Elizabeth Ha, a member of OPSEU and Justice for Migrant Workers. She says migrant workers need to be given a voice and a pathway to citizenship.
Migrant workers fear retribution
Without that, she says, their health and wellbeing remains at risk. She said many migrant workers are afraid of being fired if they seek out Canadian medical care when they are sick or get hurt.
"If there was a way to have permanent status or get citizenship upon arrival, at least you know for sure they have access to a lot of the services that we all have," said Ha.
The group will be using social media to put pressure that day on all levels of government to push for migrant worker reforms.
Eight union locals will donate $250 each to eight charities — Windsor Pride LGBTQ, Welcome Centre, CMHA Windsor-Essex County, Up About Down, Second Chance Auction Animals Rescue, the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County and the Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex County. One is yet to be determined.
Hogan said they are still deciding if they will announce this year's recipient of the Charles E. Brooks Labour Community Service Award. He said they need to work out details with the United Way which usually holds an awards dinner as a fundraiser in early November.
The virtual Labour Day can be viewed at windsorlabour.ca and facebook.com/windsordistrictLC.