Despite the general commotion caused by the spread of COVID-19, thousands of CUPE members are continuing to provide essential services to the public, even at the risk of endangering their health and that of their family members.
In Quebec, unions in the municipal sector quickly came to an agreement with cities and towns to negotiate flexibility in their collective agreements. Answering urgent requirements, providing essential services such as garbage collection, and ensuring that critical infrastructures like water and wastewater treatment plants were the focus of all parties.
Some blue-collar workers decided to volunteer to help food distribution organizations, such as Moisson Montréal. Many community-based organizations are contending with a severe lack of volunteers these days.
The authorities are going that extra mile to protect the homeless, a clientele that is particularly vulnerable at this time, especially since one of them who had gone to the Old Brewery Mission tested positive for COVID-19.
At the Complexe Guy-Favreau and the YMCA in downtown Montreal, Bruno Loiselle and about twenty of his blue-collar colleagues have been transporting beds and setting up equipment. Both locations have been designated as temporary accommodation centres and will be welcoming numerous homeless persons from across the city.
“I personally take a measure of pride in helping our citizens. A city is a local government, and its employees are essential, especially during crisis situations such as the one we’re going through. We’re aware that there are people worse off than we are with all of this upheaval,” said Bruno Loiselle.
Blue-collar workers on the island of Montreal will continue to work throughout this pandemic to help the city provide emergency services to citizens, while at the same time following public health and safety directives very carefully.