O Canada, we stand on guard for thee: A message from the President and First Vice-President on Canada Day


Most of us tend to take good things for granted. That’s just human nature. Even union members can sometimes take the benefits of union membership for granted. Again, we understand. Certainly, the corporations and right-wing think-tanks that put profits before people have little good to say about us.

But OPSEU is not looking for praise – that’s not what motivates us. What we’d like to see, however, is some recognition of what Canadians – all Canadians, unionized or not – enjoy because of the labour movement.

Labour gave us the weekend. It ended child labour. It gave us statutory limits to the number of hours worked weekly and mandatory overtime pay. It brought about a minimum wage.

Labour gave us workplace health and safety protections and workers’ compensation, employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.

Unions gave us paid vacation, holiday pay and paternity leave. They gave us free, universal health care – considered by many as the single most defining characteristic of Canada.

The list goes on and on, but you get the picture.

So this 151st Canada Day, when you wave that flag or watch fireworks or host a barbecue, go ahead and enjoy yourself. But don’t forget to whisper a little thank-you for the many benefits we enjoy in this great country – benefits that wouldn’t exist, or wouldn’t have existed until much later, if it weren’t for unions.

And the next time you sing O Canada and get to the line, “We stand on guard for thee,” remember that’s exactly what OPSEU and other unions are doing.

We protect the rights and quality of life of Canadians.

We work hard to ensure Canada becomes an ever more inclusive, safe, just and equitable society.

And we jealously guard the excellent public services that allow us to prosper and participate to the greatest extent possible in our communities.

To all our OPSEU members, be proud to be Canadian and be proud to belong to a union. Have a very happy and safe Canada Day 2018!

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President

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