The COVID-19 pandemic has created income instability and food insecurity for a growing number of Peel residents. With inflation at 4.9 per cent in November, it is getting harder and harder for people in our community to buy groceries and put food on the table for their families and themselves, says Salil Ayra, the president of CUPE 966, representing thousands of Region of Peel staff.

But, Ayra says, “no one should be going hungry in such a rich community and why our local union – CUPE 966 – proudly gives back to the people of Peel and why we support events like this Saturday’s Streetsville Christmas breakfast that raises money for Eden Food For Change.”

Among their other community and charitable efforts, for the last several years, CUPE 966 has been a contributing sponsor to the breakfast event, slated this year on December 4 between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Mississaugua Convention Centre.

“This hardship, as hard to believe as it is, has also touched some casual and part-time workers with the Region of Peel,” says Ayra. There are hundreds of personal support workers, registered practical nurses, dietary and other staff who do not have full-time work at Peel Region long-term care homes. They hold down other jobs at retirement homes or a hospital to earn a weekly salary. “It’s these Peel workers who were hurt economically during the pandemic when the province mandated that long-term care staff could only work in one health care setting. They lost hours and part of their weekly pay, throwing some into financial hardship. Food banks were there to help them and we want to recognize that and give back.”

Ayra stresses the leadersip role of the Region of Peel as a major employer in the area in stemming precarity by creating more full-time jobs. “In our regional long-term care homes more full-time work would also benefit resident care greatly.  We have been advocating for Peel to lead by example and make more of the long-term care workers’ jobs full-time and we will continue to push for that,” says Ayra.