It has been another year for the record books. Despite the difficulties, all OPSEU/SEFPO members and staff can be proud of our work these past twelve months. We have kept this province functioning as it struggled to emerge from the pandemic – and we are not done yet.
We have overcome many challenges and we continue to face new ones. OPSEU/SEFPO members have performed like star goaltenders – working hard to keep pucks out of the net. You have kept our province, and communities, in the game. Just when we thought victory was near, it’s the third period and our opponent has scored again.
Fortunately, with OPSEU/SEFPO, we’ve got a strong and skilled team, with the most dedicated and hardworking members around, and we don’t stay down for long. We get up and we keep pushing forward.
I want to take a moment to say how extremely proud I am of everything that our union has accomplished over this past year, including:
- Long-term care reform and the return of proactive inspections and heightened powers of enforcement;
- A $15 minimum wage ensuring that more than 700,000 of Ontario’s lowest paid workers get a pay hike in the New Year;
- Fighting off a raid in Corrections and welcoming many new members in different sectors;
- Numerous contracts successfully ratified, improving wages and working conditions for thousands of OPSEU/SEFPO members; and
- Increased investment in public services and a flat-out rejection of austerity.
These are just a few of the successes OPSEU/SEFPO achieved in 2021, and it is all because of the dedication, strength and resilience of our members and staff.
Because of you, our public services are stronger, more workers have the protection of a union, and we are better positioned to keep fighting for every worker to earn a living wage.
The crisis is far from over as we have seen over the past few weeks with the arrival of the Omicron variant and the new wave of the pandemic. As we head into 2022, health and safety will continue to be our top priority for all members and staff. We will fight to increase safety protocols and pivot as needed. This includes delaying the return to in-office work for OPSEU/SEFPO staff and observing all public health and safety recommendations for our union’s upcoming events and meetings.
It is in times of crisis that unions are more important than ever – we keep workers safe and we keep the government working and accountable. Governments may change but team OPSEU/SEFPO is here for the long run. Our union’s financial health is in better shape than ever and we are geared up for the year ahead.
I do not know what we will face in the New Year but I do know that whatever 2022 brings, OPSEU/SEFPO members and staff will be here to meet the challenges. Together, we will get through this pandemic and continue making great strides for workers.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer