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Reaching Out

In our October 2008 issue of MQ, I wrote about grief in the workplace and about how the way in which employers handle it says a lot about them. I find myself musing about a similar theme today; as I write this, Ottawa is in the grip of a 48 day old transit strike. Initially, of course, when we thought the strike would be short-lived, there was a lot of flexibility for employees in being able to use vacation if they could not get to work, or other short term measures. As we close in on week eight with no end in sight, reality is setting in. Many people who depend on public transportation to get to their minimum wage jobs are struggling to maintain their employment, or have lost it altogether. In the case of one woman, she was forced to walk 18 kilometers each way to work, which took six hours each way, in order to be able to continue to support herself.

Kate Moore, RPR
MQ Editor
Many of the people most affected by this strike are in lower paying positions, and many of them have language barriers. They often donít access the mainstream media, and they donít know what services are out there and available to them to assist in this time of need. As employers, we are often preoccupied with so many things in the day to day that we may fail to see those quiet people who show up every day, put in their time and head home. It is a time like this that reminds us to reach out to our colleagues and to do what we can to help.

It may seem like an obvious thing - ensuring that our employees know what resources are available to them, coordinating ride sharing programs or providing taxi chits - but when I hear stories like that of the poor lady walking six hours to work, I wonder. How could no one know that this was happening? If she didnít feel she could reach out to others, why didnít a supervisor reach out to her?

Happily, I see a great deal of evidence that this drastic situation is in many ways rebuilding our sense of community, as complete strangers reach out to assist each other. How nice it would be if we could maintain that sense of community in the city at large, but also within our workplaces as we look around us to see who might be suffering and who might need help or support.


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