Overcoming Physical Distancing with Social Solidarity

The coronavirus pandemic and the physical distancing measures required to save thousands of lives - but also inducing a global recession - will require an unprecedented level of social solidarity in the months ahead. While almost everyone will be impacted, the most vulnerable and previously marginalized will take the biggest hits unless we stand together.

We have different ways of saying what social solidarity means and why it’s important. Catholic social teaching emphasizes a “preferential option for the poor” - that we must see to the needs of the least among us first. Similarly, the union tradition talks about “in injury to one is an injury to all”. Others might simply say “were all in this together” and we won’t let anyone fall. Crises can bring out the worst or the best in us. Social solidarity speaks to the best of who we can be.

This week, GEA will host the first of several “Civic Academies” to educate ourselves and learn from each other about how we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to become better neighbors and citizens - creating a better society for everyone.

The first Civic Academy - Building Robust Member and Neighborhood Support Networks - will focus on how to organize through our community, faith and labor organizations – and into our neighborhoods – to reach those most in need, break isolation, and cultivate meaningful social solidarity.

The agenda will include:

  • how to best divide up large membership lists;
  • key practices to embed in outreach campaigns, and;
  • how to provide the support that the people we are contacting may need.

Details will be coming out soon about a second Civic Academy – on April 9th – to help us understand What’s Available, How to Access It and What’s Missing on the federal, provincial and city levels to help people through the crisis. In the meantime, you will find an excellent list of resources compiled by the Alberta Federation of Labour here.

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Standing Together through Hard Times

As the Alberta economy struggles to recover, the stress on families and individuals continues to mount. Thousands of previously well-paid construction workers have been without steady jobs for years and – having already made other sacrifices – many are now at risk of losing their homes. Low-wage workers – including most new Canadians – often work two or more jobs to make modest ends meet.

The economic stress has many ramifications, such as intensifying already extensive challenges with mental health and additions. People are particularly vulnerable when they are isolated or blame themselves. Many lives are being negatively impacted … or lost.

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