Warren Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida

March 11 marks National Day of Observance for COVID-19

Flags at OPSEU half mast
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The federal government has declared Thursday, March 11 as a National Day of Observance to remember the people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 and to recognize the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on all Canadians.

OPSEU/SEFPO stands in solidarity with the families who have lost loved ones, including the family of Connie Cerdan, an OPSEU/SEFPO Local 597 member, who passed away from the virus in early January.

March 11 also marks one year since the first known death of a Canadian from COVID-19. Since then, more than 22,000 have lost their lives; their families and communities are left heartbroken. Nearly 900,000 Canadians have been infected with COVID-19, and many still suffer its long-lasting effects.

As we mourn those we’ve lost, OPSEU/SEFPO has lowered its flags to be flown at half-mast today in honour of their legacy.

After a year of lockdowns and restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, no one has gone unscathed by COVID-19. Isolation and physical distancing have taken a toll on our collective mental health. Millions of lost jobs, shuttered businesses and most tragically, loss of life have punctuated the past year. And, while our individual experiences may differ, each person has made significant sacrifices for the greater good. Today, we honour them all.

We are especially proud of the leadership our front-line members have shown throughout this pandemic. They’ve kept the wheels turning in Ontario. Their courage in staying on the front lines has inspired every person in this province. They’ve also been leaders in fighting for health and safety improvements. At OPSEU/SEFPO, we have supported our members’ demands for PPE and other health and safety measures, and we have fought to save jobs.

We pay tribute to everyone who continues the fight against COVID-19: the front-line workers in both the public and private sectors who put their health and well-being on the line to keep our province, and our country, running. We are also thinking about the small business owners, parents, care providers and seniors who have shouldered much of the burden, and the women – especially racialized women – who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we commemorate the special contributions and sacrifices of women in the fight against COVID-19. Women are highly represented on the front lines of public service and, likewise, the front lines of this pandemic. Women are also more likely to leave the paid workforce to care for children or ill loved ones, and they’ve faced a greater risk of domestic violence during lockdown.

Today, let’s all take a moment to reflect, to remember those we’ve lost, and to recognize the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on us all. We encourage everyone to take a moment and reach out to the ones you love.

With hope on the horizon, we must continue to support one another so that we can move forward and rebuild, together.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO President

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer