Essential workers deserve essential protections: Ford must take real action to prioritize worker health and safety

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April 7, 2021

Essential workers deserve essential protections: UFCW Locals 175 & 633 demands Ford take real action to prioritize worker health and safety

Mississauga, ON – April 7, 2021 – Doug Ford’s stay-at-home order announcement today leaves essential workers in places like food manufacturing, grocery, pharmacy, healthcare and hospitality still going to work every day with very little protection or support from their government. Locals 175 & 633 of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) demands that the Ontario government act immediately to protect essential workers and reduce transmission of the virus through prioritizing vaccine access, implementing paid sick days, and legislating pandemic pay wage increases.

“For more than a year now, our members have been working on the frontlines of this pandemic and they’ve rightly been called heroes for their efforts,” said Shawn Haggerty, President of UFCW Local 175. “For all the messages of thanks these workers have heard, what they’re still waiting for is real action from the government. People are dying and health experts are sounding the alarm.”

“Lip service isn’t good enough. Premier Ford must take real action to keep these workers safe and healthy so that they can continue to provide vital goods and services.”

Since vaccines became available, UFCW Locals 175 & 633 have been advocating at all levels of government to prioritize vaccine access for all frontline workers who want it. Real protection for these workers would not only include vaccine access now, but legislated paid sick days and pandemic pay as well. These actions combined would protect not only these workers, but their families, and the customers and clients they serve too.

“The government and employers require these workers to keep showing up because their jobs are, in fact, essential. Every time they go to work, they’re putting themselves at risk with very little protection or reward,” said Haggerty. “If employers won’t implement paid sick days or better wages for their employees, then it’s the moral obligation of the government to require it. Ford keeps saying ‘all options are on the table.’”

“Now is the time for him to stop talking about all these options and take action. The people of Ontario need real leadership, and our essential workers need vaccines, pandemic pay, and paid sick days now.”

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 represents more than 70,000 working people across all sectors of the Ontario economy including health care, retail grocery, pharmacy, meat processing, manufacturing, emergency services and more.

Members with concerns or questions should contact their Union Representative.

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