When the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago, it drew the inequalities of our world into the daylight.
Disproportionately, it was racialized workers who became ill and died, because they were more likely to work in low-paid jobs deemed essential when everyone else was told to stay home. Gender inequalities in the household work and layoffs emerged. It was called a she-session. The gap between the rich and the poor grew. Where gender and race and disability intersected, the impacts were all the more complex and challenging.
A lot has changed since the outset of the pandemic. In British Columbia, many of our job losses have been regained. But we all know that jobs are not all created equal, and we know that our province remains a deeply inequitable place. While a few individuals in corporations swim in windfall profits, many are growing increasingly desperate because of the cost of living, the housing crisis, the toxic drug crisis, the impact of extreme weather events.
We celebrate the hard-won battles of workers throughout history. Workers are why we have a weekend, why we have a minimum wage, why we have the right to refuse unsafe work. Workers, people, organized and fought for these wins.
These wins do not absolve us from the responsibility we have to address inequality and inequity. We must challenge the notion that a small step towards pay equity is good enough. We should not sit idly by, accepting that the burden be unfairly carried for yet another generation. Today our fights are for pay equity, housing as a human right and clean air in the workplace, demanding the government decide with people instead of corporations. Even as the banners in this House change, it seems the fights remain the same.