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Happy New Year. Its the refrain thats on everyones lips. And its most often heartfelt and sincere. But for many, as they look to the year 2001, their spirits are dampened, their prospects bleak.

Were told the economy is sound, that Canadians are optimistic about their future. We see a federal government with a fresh mandate, so confident about the coming year theyre not even planning a budget. Yet for too many Canadians, the boom is a bust.

On the outside looking in, theyre not wondering what theyll do with more take home pay. Theyre worrying where theyll find a home. Theyre not building their portfolios. Theyre stretching their food budgets. Theyre not weighing stock options. Theyre asking how theyll pay their tuition. Living lives of poverty and violence with a growing absence of social supports, they benefit little from tax cuts and suffer greatly from the dismantling of public services.

In the face of this yawning gap, workers have demonstrated their determination to build a more just and equitable society. Within CUPE weve seen an unprecedented number of strikes, as workers have fought for respect, a decent wage and relief from crushing workloads. Weve fought to raise womens wages and end the disparity that leaves women more vulnerable throughout their lives. Weve walked the picket line to press for more caseworkers to ensure children at risk get the protection they need. Weve fought for safer workplaces, for an end to racism, for better-funded, higher quality public services. And weve organized thousands more workers into our union so that they can benefit from the strength and the solidarity that a union offers.

In the coming year, we pledge to redouble these efforts not only to benefit CUPEs half-million members, but for the benefit of all Canadians.

Its true that we in Canada have much to celebrate; much to give thanks for. But theres no reason for smugness or complacency. Its that very wealth and privilege that creates all the greater obligation to end homelessness, to strengthen public health care, to protect our environment to ensure safe, clean water, to provide our children with the best of education, to end discrimination, and to value the work of every worker.

Happy New Year. It wont be easy. It never is. But working together we can make a difference in our lives, those of our families and our communities. We can be confident about that.