First of all, I’m hoping all of you in our OPSEU family are able to take some well-deserved time off to relax and enjoy the long days and warm temperatures with your family and friends.
This may be the eye of the storm in what has been an unprecedented year so far, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. This pandemic has forced us to change almost everything about our day-to-day lives, both at home and at work.
I’m incredibly proud of how all of Ontario’s frontline workers, OPSEU’s 170,000 members included, rose to the many new challenges we now face.
With courage and conviction, you did what needed to be done. In every one of our sectors, our members have stood strong together to demand the safest possible conditions for them and the millions of Ontarians who rely on us.
One look south of the border shows what might have been if we hadn’t come together as an entire society – workers, families, entrepreneurs, and politicians – to flatten the curve and prevent widespread outbreaks.
All of our hard work and sacrifice appears to be paying off. The number of deaths and new cases are diminishing and we’re starting to return to the kind of lives we lived before, just with masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing.
But we must guard against complacency – because as I mentioned we may be in for another blast from this storm. As the summer starts to stretch into fall, a second wave of COVID-19 could hit us even harder than the first and we must be prepared for the road ahead.
We must enter this next phase ready for the worst, and continue working together to ensure that the new normal is the safe normal.
Public health must remain the top priority for front-line workers, citizens, and politicians alike. Until there is an effective vaccine, there is simply too much at stake to prioritize anything else.
Crucial to maintaining public health is a widespread focus on workplace health and safety, and you can continue to count on OPSEU to be your strong voice.
Throughout the first wave, our members leveraged the power of our union to ensure excellent health and safety measures in our workplaces.
I urge you all to keep at it. If you have any concerns or suggestions, talk to your stewards, your local executive, your H&S committee members, and your staff reps.
Ups and downs are inevitable. We’re more than likely to face more outbreaks like those we suffered through the spring. It’s how we prepare and how we respond that matters.
We know from a recent poll that OPSEU commissioned, that the pandemic has reminded the vast majority of Ontarians of the vital importance of the work we do.
Why? Because they know that they can count on us to be there for them in the trenches on the front lines. Selfless. Committed. That’s the OPSEU way. Our way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas