To say this year was like no other would be an understatement. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and around the world, people adjusted to an unprecedented crisis, finding new ways to work, reinventing themselves, and rising to new challenges in order to support and protect their community, through sacrifices big and small.
Despite difficult circumstances, our members stepped up in a big way during this crisis. They leapt into action, expediting the training of healthcare and frontline workers and helping manufacturers pivot to produce additional personal protective equipment, transport vaccines safely and more. They also worked hand in hand with our nation’s employers who often had to completely overhaul their businesses in order to survive, with SMEs disproportionately affected by the pandemic. To say we are proud of their work would also be an understatement.
At CICan, the pandemic forced us to redouble our efforts, as colleges and institutes needed a voice in Ottawa, perhaps more than ever before. It is slightly ironic that in a year when we could not meet in person, we participated in more advocacy meetings than ever before, ensuring that policy makers understood the impact of emergency measures on our members and their students, including the many international students who suddenly couldn’t enter the country. We also took on several new projects to provide additional support to our students and even help fill skills shortages in the long-term care sector. In that way, it was, against all odds, a time of significant growth for our association.
In a year that saw so much turmoil, we were also reminded of the critical importance of equity, diversity and inclusion. Movements like Black Lives Matter pushed us all to reflect on how we can be better allies to racialized Canadians and Indigenous people. Meanwhile COVID-19 brought to light systemic inequalities, affecting already vulnerable populations in a disproportionate way, including women.
As of the writing of this report, we can be optimistic that the pandemic is coming to an end, but we will not forget the lessons learned during this unbelievable year. Looking now to the recovery, we must ensure that it is sustainable and equitable. We sincerely believe that our members have a critical role to play in this regard, not just to help the many displaced workers find their way back to the labour market, but to continue working towards a better future for all. It is an honour to be a part of this system.
President and CEO
Dr. Paula Burns