Women of Inspiration Hold 16th Annual Vigil

Women of Inspiration participate in International Women's Day march in Toronto in 2018

More than 80 people participated in this year's 16th annual vigil organized by the Women of Inspiration injured workers' support group. It was the second held online due to the pandemic.

In opening the program Maryam Nazemi, one of the vigil's founders, emphasized the critical importance that all workers be covered by Workers Compensation, pointing out that currently in Ontario some 1.7 million workers do not have coverage, leaving them without protection when injured or made ill at work. Many of the workers designated as essential during the pandemic are not covered by WSIB. Why, if they are considered essential, are they not working in healthy and safe workplaces, with proper PPE, testing, paid sick days and time off to get vaccinated, she asked. Maryam has been fighting for the last seventeen years to have a workers' compensation program that covers all workers since herself being injured at a workplace which wasn't covered. 

This demand was further addressed by Cynthia Ireland from CUPE Local 1750, representing WSIB employees. She pointed out that many of those who are not covered are workers in fields such as personal care, who face higher risks of becoming ill at work during the pandemic. She announced that a Universal Coverage campaign will be launched July 29.

Gagandeep Kaur, a CUPW member-organizer in Peel who works with the Warehouse Workers Centre spoke about the work they are doing to organize precariously employed workers to defend their rights under the conditions of the pandemic. While in workplaces like Canada Post workers have the protection of a union, thousands work in similar warehouse settings through temp agencies with no collective defence organizations. Some 45 per cent of Amazon parcels go through the Peel region, she said, and there have been more than 500 workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 in the region. Warehouse workers do not have space to social distance, employers violate safety guidelines and testing has never been easily accessible. Workers only got access to vaccines when they stood together and demanded them. She pointed out that the problems brought to light by the pandemic existed long before it started and concluded that the crisis of the pandemic has brought workers closer and if we stand and organize together we can turn the tide in our favour.

Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates brought greetings to the vigil and emphasized the immediate priority to have all workers in the province covered by a compensation program that takes care of them quickly and fairly. Two of the Women of Inspiration, Heather Cherron and Alicia, rounded out the program with their songs. 

This article was published in

June 7, 2021 - No. 54

Article Link:


Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca