23 December, 2020 5:02 PM

Dec 23 News

In this weeks' Toronto & York Region Labour Council news: 


FORD'S FAILURE: Cases and deaths mount as lockdown delayed

One Week – Five Deaths: Ontario Mourns Construction Deaths

“Let’s continue this journey together”: Message from our President

Good of the Union for United Way - We Need Your Help

Job Opportunity: OCUFA Director of Collective Bargainng Service

SPOTLIGHT ON… Labour Start

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Ontario is headed for another strict lockdown on Boxing Day – but once again the rules have many questioning Premier Ford’s priorities.

Ford blamed international travel – but according to Ontario’s own data, the three biggest outbreak sources have been: care settings, workplaces and schools. International travel isn’t listed.

Yet, the Ford government remains silent on paid sick days and rapid testing in workplaces.    

Meanwhile, long term care facilities continue to break under the pressure. Nearly 800 residents have died since the second wave with worst-hit homes like Revera in Etobicoke reporting 270 cases – 45% of infections are staff – with 28 deaths. Read the Ontario Health Coalitions report surveying staff in the hardest hit homes/

Low wages and bad jobs are a public health hazard. Despite the promises of a vaccine, the day-to-day reality for many workers in our city leaves many having to choose between staying home sick & paying the bills.

ICYMI: CBC’s The Current spoke to worker who says he can't afford to call in sick, as well as Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers' Action Centre, and Mayor of Brampton, Ont., Patrick Brown.


Five of our brothers in the construction trades were lost in the last week – all five tragedies occurred on the job site.

John Martens, 21, of Langton, and Henry Harder, 26, of Tillsonburg, died as a result of injuries suffered when a four-storey building under construction in London collapsed on Dec. 11. Andrew Orfanakos, 48, of Newmarket, was killed Dec. 14 while working on a construction site at Widmer and Adelaide streets in Toronto. A 54-year old man died Dec. 15 when crushed by a slab of concrete at an Ontario Tech University jobsite in Oshawa. And the afternoon of Dec. 17, a traffic signaler at a construction site in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough was struck and killed by a motorist.

We send our deepest condolences to the families, friends and coworkers of our fallen brothers. One death on the job is one too many.


It seems like a lifetime ago since COVID-19 arrived in Canada. A year ago so much was happening: millions of young people across the globe were taking to the streets demanding climate justice, gig workers were organizing into unions, teachers and support staff were taking job action to defend public education, and transit workers had stopped the Ford takeover of our subway system.  

And then COVID. The pandemic uprooted our world in once unimaginable ways. We were shocked by the tragic loss of life in long-term-care homes and how fragile our social safety net had become. The pandemic also exposed what far too many have long known, or experienced first-hand: that economic inequality and systemic racism are painful realities in our country.

It’s been a difficult year, yet there is hope. Hope in the acts of generosity and friendship from ordinary people in communities large and small. Hope in the heroism of our front-line workers. Hope in the slogan “A Just Recovery for All” that cries out for a society guided by the values of social solidarity instead of corporate greed.

Next year our Labour Council celebrates 150 years as the voice for working people in Canada’s largest urban centre. We live in the most diverse city in the world, with a rich history of struggle and resilience. Some of our families have been on this land for thousands of years, while others have just arrived. Each new generation has discovered hard truths about economic and political power, and what needs to be done to win fairness.

Labour Council was founded in 1871 to work for economic and social justice for all. Since that time, demands for racial and climate justice have also helped define the spirit of our movement.  There will be some tough struggles ahead. But if we look back at journey of those who came before us we will find the lessons, inspiration and wisdom to guide us in building a better world. Let’s continue that journey together in 2021 and beyond.


John Cartwright



We have always stood side-by-side to ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunities.

This year has been one of unprecedented challenges for everyone – but especially for those in our community that may have been struggling before the pandemic and are now at risk of falling even farther behind. The demand for social services has increased over 40% this year, yet there is a forecasted shortfall in community funding needed.


The pandemic will have repercussions for years to come, and your support is needed to help our community recover. Your gift will help United Way Greater Toronto’s network of 280 agencies adapt to keep people safe in our new reality, while continuing to offer critical services that support employment, mental health, and food security.


Please consider supporting United Way Greater Toronto


The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations is hiring. The Director of Collective Bargaining Services is part of a team of policy staff who work collaboratively to deliver the services required to meet OCUFA’s mandate.  The successful candidate for the Collective Bargaining Services Director will provide tactical and strategic leadership to OCUFA member associations in collective bargaining, provide leadership in collecting and disseminating bargaining research, and lead bargaining training for OCUFA member associations as needed.

When submitting your application please include your resume along with the names of three references by January 15th, 2021 at 4 pm to Jenny Ahn, Executive Director at  JAhn@ocufa.on.ca

SPOTLIGHT ON... LabourStart

Every week, we will bring you a snapshot of an initiative or organization doing great work within our labour community. 

LabourStart is an online news service maintained by a global network of volunteers which serves the international trade union movement by collecting and disseminating information -- and by assisting unions in campaigning and other ways.

Its features include daily labour news links in 35 languages and a news syndication service used by hundreds of trade union websites. News is collected from mainstream, trade union, and alternative news sources by a network of almost 1,000 volunteer correspondents based on every continent.

LabourStart was founded by Eric Lee, growing out of the website he created in 1996 to accompany the publication of his book, The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism. They have been involved in online campaigning for decades and unions around the world now rely upon its ActNOW campaigning system. Tens of thousands of trade unionists have participated in its various online campaigns and more than 130,000 are currently subscribed to its mailing lists.

Stories include the growing labour unrest in Kenya as doctors join nurses and clinical officers in a nationwide strike, the Building and Wood Workers International 2020 year end rendition of  the popular resistance song “Bella Ciao.”

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