A south view of Ontario Legislative Building, Toronto. Wikimedia Entering Step 3 early is a testament to the contributions of front-line workers but the Ford Conservatives are still failing to ensure safety and a recovery for all, says CUPE Ontario.

“Front-line workers kept us as safe as possible during this pandemic, with members of CUPE Ontario, among others, doing the important work of vaccinating so many of us so quickly,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “We’re at this point, where we’re reopening faster than expected, in no small part because of them. But we owe front-line workers so much more. We can’t truly reopen safely without permanent, employer-paid sick days a plan for schools and investments in the public services that safe lives and ensure livelihoods.”

CUPE Ontario continues to call for an increase to the minimum wage to $20/hr and to social assistance rates, an end to the wage restraint legislation capping public sector wage and benefit increases at 1 per cent a year, increased investments to municipalities to ensure they continue to deliver services at the local level, a reverse to cuts to post secondary education and a plan to ensure its affordable, and improvements to child care.

Additionally, CUPE Ontario says that Ontario must declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis, must being a process to engage in meaningful reconciliation with indigenous communities, and must develop a plan to ensure affordable housing.

“A reopening without these measures is incomplete at best, a disproportionate burden on workers at worst,” said Hahn.

“We also need to take profit out of a care, and develop a plan and ensure the funding to recruit and retain personal support workers in long-term care,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “As good as things are going, there are still variants of concern. There’s always a risk of yet another wave – one that would impact the most vulnerable. It’s time to set ensure that workers can provide four hours of care for every resident of long-term care homes.”