Toronto – December 22, 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate our lives in 2021, but instead of complaining about a virus that seemingly refuses to go away, UFCW members rolled up their sleeves and showed courage and resolve on the front lines of Canada’s most important industries.
From coast to coast, UFCW Canada members worked diligently to care for our loved ones and keep food on the tables of Canadian families, and thousands of members in the hotel and hospitality sectors went back to work for the first time since early 2020.
Encouragingly, the rapid development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and the broad embrace of vaccination among Canadians, allowed workers and their families to return to a sense of normalcy for much of the year, and enabled the fully vaccinated to avoid serious illness from the coronavirus.
However, the arrival of the Omicron variant, and a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, indicate that the coronavirus hasn’t been defeated yet. To get there, public health experts agree widescale vaccination – including booster shots for the fully vaccinated and vaccinating children – will be essential.
Recognizing that vaccination is key to protecting everyone against COVID-19, UFCW Canada partnered with the This is Our Shot campaign through 2021 to remind Canadians that we can only be #TogetherAgain if we all get vaccinated. As well, our union supported frontline workers who lack paid sick leave by calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada’s Premiers to provide Paid Sick Days Now! to all workers. UFCW also advocated for a just and inclusive rebound from the pandemic by encouraging the federal government to Support an Anti-Racist COVID-19 Recovery.
Elsewhere on the campaign front, UFCW Canada won important victories on toxic receipts and conversion therapy, convincing major retailers such as Loblaws, Metro, Costco, and Walmart to phase out receipts containing BPA and BPS chemicals, and helping to secure a federal ban on conversion practices that harm the LGBTQI2S community.
In addition, UFCW Canada helped to elect UFCW Local 832 activist Beatrice Bruske as President of the Canadian Labour Congress at the CLC’s 29th Constitutional Convention in June. Together with the Team Unite slate, Sister Bruske is now building a stronger, more united, and effective labour movement, and UFCW is proud to have played a leading role in her successful election.
Looking ahead to 2022, UFCW will set our union’s agenda for the next five years when activists gather in Toronto for UFCW Canada’s National Convention in August. And we will continue to encourage members, staff, and allies to get vaccinated so that we can put this pandemic behind us.
As 2021 comes to a close, and we welcome a new year, I want to thank all UFCW Canada members for your bravery and resilience serving on the front lines. Your incredible work keeps our country going, and on behalf of our great union, I would like to extend my best wishes to you and your family this holiday season. I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022.
Paul R. Meinema