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Warren Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida

Family Day 2021: Staying home and staying hopeful 

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Each year, Family Day brings an opportunity to take a break from our daily lives and spend some quality time with our loved ones. This year, we’ve been asked to stay distanced and stay home. While we know this is necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19 and keep our families safe, it’s also a painful reminder of the difficult year we’ve had and the toll this pandemic has taken on so many families.

The pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride of COVID waves, lockdowns and for some, job losses. Millions of people have been told to work from home, while many essential workers remain on the front lines, including thousands of dedicated OPSEU/SEFPO members.

All Ontarians are facing their own unique challenges in balancing work and family life. We’ve had to scramble to find childcare and worried for our children. As COVID-19 ravaged long-term care homes, we’ve lost many people we love. We’ve struggled to provide in-home schooling for our kids and care for our elderly parents and relatives, which has added an extra layer of stress and responsibility into the mix.

Separation and divorce are up, as are occurrences of domestic violence, directed mostly at women and girls. The UN has characterized it as a “pandemic within a pandemic.” And mental health issues, addiction and overdose rates have also spiked.

While many are suffering a certain degree of cabin fever with their houses full and nowhere to go, many others are desperately lonely and separated from their family members and close friends. It hasn’t been easy on anyone.

But if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of social connection in our lives and ultimately, the importance of family.

So, on this unusual Family Day, let’s all take a moment to reflect on the importance of our own families, and to think about all the families out there who are struggling, but also persevering through this pandemic. Let’s take a moment to reach out to the ones we love and tell them how we feel.

And let’s stay home, stay healthy and stay hopeful that Family Day 2022 will see us, once again, enjoying the activities we love, with the people we love.

In solidarity,

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