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Ontario fiscal update fails to provide direct financial support to workers affected by COVID-19

Unifor -

March 25, 2020

TORONTO—The fiscal update provided by Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Phillips today failed to enact adequate measures to protect Ontarians from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“As this deadly and costly pandemic unfolds, Ontarians deserved to see far more from their government in today’s update,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Minister Philips spoke at length about protecting the cash flow of businesses but had shockingly little to say about the cash flow of Ontarians and that’s completely unacceptable.”

Unifor has been demanding urgent action from the Ford government, including immediate relief for workers affected by the pandemic or the broader economic effects of the government’s public health response. These measures should include instituting a minimum of 14 paid sick days and establishing direct, emergency income assistance measures. The full recommendations from Unifor are outlined in a letter to the Premier here.

The government announced only small one-time payments for families with children and limited other measures to offer minor relief with utility costs and student loans. With record-numbers of layoffs and Employment Insurance claims in recent days, the federal government and other provincial jurisdictions are providing greater direct support measures than the government of Ontario.

Minister Philips also announced a $3.3 billion funding increase as part of the government’s health care response to COVID-19. While greater detail is needed on the government’s planned deployment of the funding in the short-term, health care workers must see a more substantial investment to address chronic, long-term underfunding of health care in Ontario, with a clear plan to reopen and staff shuttered hospital beds.

“Today’s announcement leaves countless thousands of Ontarians out of what should have been the most ambitious and substantive direct income assistance plan we’ve seen in generations,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Regional Director. “Instead, this government is failing in its responsibility to provide direct emergency relief to Ontario workers, as so many other provinces and countries have already done.” 

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange an interview, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative David Molenhuis at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

After snubbing Moe’s mediators, Co-op demands more concessions

Unifor -

March 25, 2020

REGINA—Only 72 hours after rejecting all of the recommendations from Premier Scott Moe’s appointed mediators, Federated Co-operatives Limited has tabled new, aggressive concessions in bargaining with oil & gas workers in Regina.

“Right from the beginning, we called for mediation to be binding, not a friendly suggestion for Co-op to ignore,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The province must introduce legislation to end to this dispute and force this rogue employer to restore safe operation of Saskatchewan’s largest refinery.”

On day 111 of the bitter lockout at the Co-op Refinery, the company has tabled a “final offer” with concessions that go far beyond what was proposed by Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers in their report commissioned and paid for by the Saskatchewan government. Co-op’s new demands include a significant reduction in the company’s pension responsibilities while gutting the employee savings plan.

“Co-op has never wanted to compromise, they want it all,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 President. “But it’s too late for that. The mediators’ report was the process that workers and the company agreed to, we ratified it, and it’s what Scott Moe needs to enforce.”

Local 594 voted 98 per cent in favour of the compromises contained in the report from the Premier’s appointed mediators, and say they are ready to return to work under that settlement, which includes workers contributing eight percent to their pensions. Unifor says that a return to work for the skilled workforce that normally operates the Regina refinery cannot happen soon enough.

“The crowded scab camp is a health disaster waiting to happen. It is in the province’s interest for Premier Moe to put an end to this lockout and close the scab camp once and for all,” said Dias.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Delivering during COVID-19: Canada Post’s shocking working conditions

Rank and File - latest news -

By Doug Nesbitt Postal workers are widely recognized as essential services during this crisis, but they’re sounding the alarm about working conditions which pose a glaring threat to themselves and the public. On social media and in the mainstream media, postal workers are frustrated with the failure of management to respond effectively to COVID-19 threat, Continue readingDelivering during COVID-19: Canada Post’s shocking working conditions

UFCW members gain wage premiums, more safety protections at Olymel, Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – March 24, 2020 – Canada’s voice of food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada), is proud to announce that the union’s conversations with major meat producers at Olymel, Cargill, and Maple Leaf Foods have secured premium pay increases and more safety protections for all front-line workers at these companies. 

On the Front Lines: UFCW food manufacturing members

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – March 24, 2020 – While a growing number of businesses are closing as part of escalating government measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, UFCW food manufacturing members remain on the front lines of the crisis working hard to supply grocery stores and help feed Canadians and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

UFCW: Amazon CEO Sells $3.4 Billion in Stock Before Market Collapse While Failing to Protect Workers from Coronavirus  

UFCW Press Releases -

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Condemns Jeff Bezos for Putting His Own Profits Before Worker Health and Safety During Outbreak 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, retail, and other industries, condemned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for failing to protect the company’s workers during the coronavirus outbreak even as the Wall Street Journal reported that he protected his own wealth by selling $3.4 billion in stock in the first week of February, before the market collapsed.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As the Wall Street Journal reported, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has now been exposed for putting his wealth first on the eve of the coronavirus outbreak, even while the company refuses to do enough to protect Whole Foods employees and other Amazon workers from this pandemic.

“It was already outrageous that Amazon refuses to provide any paid sick leave until after they test positive for the virus. That may now be explained by the fact that Bezos is apparently more concerned with adding to his personal wealth than protecting the health and welfare of his workers, their families, or the public.

“Make no mistake, union and non-union grocery workers are literally on the front lines of this national coronavirus outbreak. They are putting themselves at risk every day to help feed America’s families. Is it really so much to ask that billionaires and non-union employers, like Amazon and Whole Foods, do more to protect their workers and the public?

“The America people, our elected leaders, and especially Whole Foods and Amazon customers, have the right to demand to know why Bezos sold this stock when he did, and more importantly, why he isn’t doing more to protect workers and this nation from this terrible pandemic that has impacted every single American.”


As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sold $3.4 billion in Amazon shares in the first week of February, shortly before the stock market peaked, allowing him to avoid losses of roughly $317 million if he had held the stock through March 20. Bezos sold almost as much stock during the first week in February as he sold during the previous 12 months.

Earlier this month, UFCW called out Amazon and Whole Foods for failing to provide any paid sick leave to employees until after they tested positive for COVID-19 and suggesting that employees “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies during the coronavirus outbreak. With coronavirus testing incredibly scarce, this leaves Whole Foods employees – and all Amazon employees covered by the policy – at great risk before they are able to get tested.

UFCW has been a vocal critic of Amazon’s aggressive move to devalue and degrade grocery jobs at Whole Foods. In September 2019, UFCW slammed the company for cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers. In March 2019, UFCW condemned actions by Whole Foods to reduce employee hours just months after Amazon announced a wage increase that was supposed to be an investment in Whole Foods workers.


The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.


MOA on Lab Redeployment to Cadham

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, Laboratory professionals are on the front line of keeping Manitobans safe from this growing threat.

We are now seeing the media and public take a greater interest in the life-saving work you do every day.  I will continue to do my part to make sure people understand the critical role you serve in health care, and not just during a pandemic.  We recognize that these are extraordinary times, and some Laboratory professionals are already being called upon to serve where you’re needed most during this crisis.

I am writing to MAHCP Laboratory members across the province to advise that MAHCP has signed an additional MOA – Redeployment of Staff Between the SHEO and CPL Relating to COVID-19.  This MOA is specific to redeployment of Laboratory staff in order to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as the situation evolves in Manitoba and the need for testing grows.  Please be advised that the attached MOA is now in effect.

This new MOA is nearly identical in language and intent to the MOA signed previously between all health-care unions and Regions regarding redeployment of staff between Employer organizations.  However, that previous MOA did not cover redeployment to Cadham Provincial Laboratory as it is operated directly by the Government of Manitoba, so an additional MOA was required.

I would like to remind everyone that MOAs are commonplace in preparation for events such as natural disasters and pandemics.  The MOA ensures that your rights are protected and that any member who is temporarily transferred to Cadham will receive additional compensation to cover costs related to travel, meals and hotel accommodations as needed.  It is important to note that the MOA ensures the terms of your current collective bargaining agreement will continue to apply if you are redeployed, and you will continue to be represented by MAHCP.

If you have any questions regarding the terms of this MOA or transferring to Cadham, please contact your Labour Relations Officer or email info@mahcp.ca.

On behalf of MAHCP, thank you again for the work you do every day to keep Manitobans safe and healthy, especially during this difficult time.  I know all Allied Health Professionals have concerns of your own right now, and yet you continue to do whatever you can to serve.  All MAHCP members are heroes in my book, and you deserve the gratitude of every single Manitoban.  Thank you.

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz

MAHCP President

“We are dropping like flies,” says Ontario home care nurse

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar Protective equipment shortages in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis are causing panic among home and community care workers and placing them on the verge of quitting, says an Ontario nurse who works in the sector.  Janice Ackerman*, a registered practical nurse (RPN), says personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, Continue reading“We are dropping like flies,” says Ontario home care nurse

Employers sabotage worker access to EI benefits, Great Canadian Casino workers speak out

Unifor -

March 24, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor calls on all employers to adhere to Service Canada’s demand that COVID-19 related work shortages be coded appropriately, instead of blocking workers’ access to EI.

“Some employers are sabotaging workers’ access to EI benefits and it has to stop,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Workers from across Canada are being delayed access to EI benefits because employers are miscoding Records of Employment.”

Unifor has received dozens of complaints from workers, notably those recently laid off from Great Canadian Casinos, that ROE forms are being miscoded. Service Canada has stated clearly that all ROEs must be coded as “shortage of work.” Employers who improperly code forms are causing excessive delays for workers trying to access EI.

“Workers are suffering as this crisis evolves and this error is only hurting workers and their families, and employers need to fall in line, and stop listening to a handful of law firms giving bad advice” said Dias.

The advice on Service Canada’s website to employers is very clear that workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic must be coded “shortage of work.”

Unifor recently urged all Members of Parliament to act quickly to address issues facing workers; including radical EI reform and emergency measures to ensure that wage loss is minimized.

“Emergency measures are needed immediately. Workers cannot wait another day while the EI system continues to fail those who need it,” continued Dias.

Unifor launched a comprehensive hub for information about the pandemic at unifor.org/COVID19 and encourages all members to visit the site regularly for updates.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries please contact National Communications Representative, Paul Whyte at Paul.Whyte@unifor.org or 647-221-9343 (cell).

Ford must re-invest $1 billion in health care to fight COVID-19

Unifor -

March 24, 2020

TORONTO—Unifor is urging the Government of Ontario to strengthen its COVID-19 strategy, restore $1 billion in health spending and adopt a series of policies to protect the health and economic security of Ontarians in advance of tomorrow’s economic update.

“By all estimations, the pandemic will get worse before it gets better. We need the Ontario government to abandon its piecemeal approach to this crisis,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Doug Ford’s slow-moving approach to this crisis will bring a whole host of economic perils for Ontarians that his government has not begun to address.”

The Ontario government previously cut an estimated $2.7 billion in health spending in its 2019 budget, including $13-million to Public Health Ontario which directly affected the province’s capacity to test for infectious diseases. As reports continue to show long wait times and delays for testing Ontarians for COVID-19, Unifor is calling for the province to immediately reverse health care cuts by a minimum of $1 billion. The funding must also be prioritized for long-term care as seniors are among the most vulnerable population to the effects of COVID-19 and the province has yet to address the Personal Support Worker (PSW) shortages across the province.

“There can be no doubt that the government’s funding cuts to health care made it much more difficult to adequately protect Ontarians from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “The Ford government is risking the health and safety of Personal Support Workers and long-term care facility residents in this province if funding isn’t restored by March 25.”

Unifor has called on the Ontario government to implement broad-based measures to protect Ontarians’ income and their health, as well as implement specific protections for seniors and health care workers. The union’s letter to the premier can be viewed here.

Unifor accounts for the dramatic economic disruption caused by the pandemic in its recommendations to government. As a significant number of laid off workers face potentially insurmountable financial pressures and a lack of relief from Employment Insurance payments, workers, especially gig economy, contract, and precarious workers, will require direct emergency income assistance. Unlike various other provinces, the Ontario government has so far provided no income support to workers that do not qualify for EI benefits and are either waiting, or ineligible, for pending federal supports. 

While the Ford government has implemented some protections already, a Toronto Star report released on Friday revealed that Ontario’s health authorities have been critical of Ontario’s COVID-19 strategy describing it as slow, incremental and ineffective.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange an interview, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative David Molenhuis at david.molenhuis@unifor.org or 416-575-7453 (cell).

All PSAC Regional Conventions Postponed


In keeping with recommendations from both local and national health authorities regarding COVID-19, PSAC has made the difficult decision to suspend the remaining four PSAC Regional Conventions. All seven PSAC Regional Conventions are now postponed...

2020 Prairie Provincial Budget Review

Rank and File - latest news -

What do the prairie budgets say about the values of our provincial leaders? In a time of such uncertainty, how can we formulate a vision of a society that values people over profits? Joel French, Simon Enoch, and Lynne Fernandez discuss the Prairie budgets and what they mean for workers’ futures. AUPE asks for immediate Continue reading2020 Prairie Provincial Budget Review

Behind the work refusal by Hamilton sanitation workers

Rank and File - latest news -

By Doug Nesbitt At least half of Hamilton’s sanitation workers initiated a health and safety work refusal on Monday March 23 at 7am. By 11:30am, the Ministry of Labour was contact to address the ongoing work refusal. The seventy sanitation worker involved are members of CUPE Local 5167, the union representing City of Hamilton employees. Continue readingBehind the work refusal by Hamilton sanitation workers