Robyn Benson, PSAC


Ice Storm Toronto.jpg

In the aftermath of the worst ice-storm Toronto has ever had (but let’s not forget hard-hit smaller municipalities in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick), a virtual army of heroes has emerged—hydro workers, on 12-hour shifts around the clock over the Christmas period, steadily restoring power to hundreds of thousands of “customers.” Their work continues as I write this.

Volunteers from elsewhere rallied, arriving from Manitoba (my home province), Michigan, Windsorand Ottawa to pitch in. Some of them may not make it back home until the New Year. When there are emergencies, people will rise to the occasion.

Thanks to all those hydro workers, the number of people without power has now been cut to a fraction of those knocked off the grid a few days ago, but many remain, shivering in their homes. Incidentally, that word “customers,” which Hydro companies like to use, should not be confused with “people,” although the media have too often done so: this refers only to household and business accounts, but many more individuals have been freezing in the dark.

It’s been a miserable time indeed for many, especially given the normally festive season. Stories of the great 2013 ice-storm will be told for years.

Let’s hope that many of those will put the repair crews in the spotlight. Let’s have their accounts, from the outside, as it were: removing countless fallen trees from live electrical wires, getting those wires up again or replacing them, restoring the lifeline of electric power to countless families in what, given the sheer scope of the catastrophe, must be considered a relatively short period of time.

I feel I must make this point strongly, because hydro workers are unionized public employees, and as such they’ve been the target of smears from the usual sources in the past. Whether the employees in that hatchet-job just referenced were on a lunch break or waiting for a call-out is immaterial to those whose mission in life is to portray all public workers as lazy and overpaid.

We know what our own members do, in and for their communities, every single day. Now is the time for us all to recognize and respect the all-out effort, skill and determination of the folks getting communities, large and small, back on their feet. Bravo!

No one’s calling those workers lazy now. Everyone is behind them this week. Be good if that lasted, eh?

[Photo Credit: Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press]

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on December 27, 2013 8:29 AM.

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