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ATU Canada Conference

After two years of pandemic waves and rolling lockdowns across Canada, it was great to finally return to an in-person ATU Canada Conference in the beautiful east coast city of Saint John, New Brunswick.  ATU Canada President John Di Nino and International President John Costa kicked off the conference by thanking the attendees for their leadership, bravery, and grace in serving our members, our union, and our communities. 

“Thank you for flying our flag high and representing our members and our Union with strength and unity over the past few difficult years,” Costa told the delegation. “You and our members kept showing up to work, moving our communities, organizing your workplaces, securing strong contracts, and winning elections. Your commitment and dedication and our members’ involvement have been critical.” 

International Vice Presidents John Callahan, Manny Sforza, and Ken Wilson gave updates on some current challenges and efforts in various parts of Canada.  Retired IVP Robin West also attended and was presented a plaque for his many years of service and dedication to the ATU. 

Interim elections were held for three open positions on the ATU Canada Executive Board. Aleem Tharani of Local 113-Toronto, ON, was elected Financial Secretary, Darcy Pederson of Local 615-Saskatoon, SK, was elected Executive Board Member – Western Canada, and Alan McGrath of Local 1290-Moncton, NB, was elected Executive Board Member – Eastern Canada.   

Given the number of tragedies and assaults on our members over the past year alone, this year’s conference theme was Mental Health.  Guest speakers included Danielle McCarron and Melissa Martin of Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres, who spoke to delegates about PTSD, Substance Use, and treatment options like the Virtual Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program offered at Trafalgar.  

In addition, Laura Gatien of Laura Gatien and Associates gave a thought-provoking presentation about the stigma around mental health, the perceptions we may have about it, and the general lack of awareness.  She spoke about the importance of recognizing the symptoms and struggles of those around us, how to improve mental health in the workplace, creating a safe place for people to be vulnerable about their struggles, and finding support.  

The ATU Canada Equity and Inclusion Committee, a new initiative sanctioned by the efforts of members across Canada, also gave a presentation. The Executive Committee is comprised of three co-chairs who have been elected by their peers to spearhead change within the ATU across Canada.  The co-chairs of the committee are Emily Groom of Local 107-Hamilton, ON, Michelle Clarke of Local 1572-Mississauga, ON, and Raj Brar of Local 569-Edmonton, AB.   

They shared the committee’s vision and goals including a recent survey of ATU Canada rank and file members to better understand their experiences within the context of equity and inclusion in the workplace.  While they received less responses than they hoped for, 51% indicated that their Local has not acknowledged, demonstrated, or shown commitment to equity and inclusion.  On a more positive note, 46% of those members are willing to advocate for change.

“We are very grateful to our host Locals for all their hard work to ensure we had a wonderful time in Saint John,” said Di Nino.  “I want to personally thank Grant Logan, President of Local 1182-Saint John, NB, and Alan McGrath, President of Local 1290-Moncton, NB, and their Executive Boards for all their assistance in planning the events and driving the buses to shuttle our members and guests to and from the airport, hotel, and events.”    

Looking forward to seeing everyone next year in Calgary!