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Celebrating Mother’s Day during the COVID-19 pandemic sheds new light on how to honour our mothers

Illustration of a woman holding flowers.

This Mother’s Day, May 10, let’s think about mothers who are on the front lines providing the public services that support Ontarians through the COVID-19 crisis.

Many mothers in the public sector are risking their health every day to continue to provide the services that keep Ontario running. They’re experiencing mental stress and physical exhaustion in the workplace before heading home to help their families. For many it’s a difficult balancing act and we admire how they are able to pull it off.

Many other mothers are working from home, juggling the demands of their employers while homeschooling their kids throughout the day. Other moms are home struggling with cuts in pay or no pay at all and have all the same commitments to their children and family on top of the stress of making ends meet.

Sadly, many moms across Ontario are also coping with the loss of family members – sometimes their own mothers and fathers – who have fallen victim to this pandemic.  Their loss will feel all the more palpable on a quiet Mother’s Day.

Many people around the globe will mourn the loss of their mother because of this pandemic.  We know long-term care homes and older Ontarians have been hardest hit by COVID-19. As the death toll has risen, the neglect and massive underfunding of our long-term care facilities, and the private, for-profit facilities that cut corners to increase their bottom line, have been exposed and condemned. Tired, overworked staff, often women, are paid low wages while they struggle to keep themselves and their residents safe and healthy.

If there can be a silver lining to this pandemic it could be the chance to re-examine our priorities as a society.  It’s an opportunity to expect better of our governments and employers – to change attitudes and our social framework.  It’s the perfect time to put action to the tender sentiments of love and affection that we bestow on our mothers on Mother’s Day, and to the women in our lives, and demand changes to the way we treat women in the workplace.  Our mothers, all women, deserve equal pay, fair wages, and healthy and safe working conditions that are free from harassment and discrimination. 

On this Mother’s Day, unlike any other we have seen in our lifetime, let’s honour our mothers as a collective – whether they be our biological mothers or nurturing people who play a mothering role in our lives.  Let’s thank them for their sacrifices and, even better, stand up for them by demanding strong public supports, and fair and equitable treatment in the workplace.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer