A Message To Our Members in Fort McMurray

To our members in Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo Region,

I know that you are all under a tremendous amount of stress and scared about what is happening with the wild fires in Fort McMurray. Firstly, I want you to know that your union is here for you.

We have assigned Laura Lowrie, a Senior Labour Relations Officer and very capable staff member from UFCW Local 401, to provide you with any assist you may need. Laura has been working diligently since news broke about the fires and is available to help you in whatever way she can.

To seek Laura’s assistance, please contact our Edmonton office at 1-800-252-7975 or ufcw@ufcw401.ab.ca.

Additionally, I am trying desperately to get up to Fort McMurray to be there for our members on the ground. Before I can do that I need to get clearance from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to make the trek, and I am having conversations daily to receive that clearance.

Please know that I want to be on the ground to help you and that I will not stop working to receive the go ahead I need in order to travel to Fort McMurray until it is provided.

As well, we will be working to open our office in Fort McMurray as soon as possible to act as a resource centre so that our members have a place to go in order to receive assistance. The office will also act as a place where you can register to receive financial assistance from the nearly $1 million we have raised from other UFCW locals in order to help you.

We need everyone to register for assistance so we know how many people we’re looking to help and what their circumstances are. We are working hard to finalize the criteria by which we will distribute these funds as quickly as possible.

An online form to register for assistance via our website will be up shortly. We’ll let our members from Fort McMurray know when that form is up so you can begin registering.

I hope you’ve heard that your fellow UFCW members from across Canada and in the United States stepped up without hesitation to make sure we had the resources needed to help you through this. Your union will not let you down in your time of need.

I have also been in touch with the companies we deal with in Fort McMurray to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly. Our stewards in the North are doing an amazing job, so if there are issues please make sure you tell them.

Most of all, we want to make sure our camp members are safe up there.

I have talked to Civeo to make sure that any member who wants to leave the area is able to do so with the company’s assistance. If you need assistance leaving the area, please talk to your manager immediately.

If you do not receive the assistance you need, contact your union at 1-800-252-7975 or ufcw@ufcw401.ab.ca so we can help you.

Of course, everyone in the camps has been sticking together and doing incredible work. It goes without saying that we are all so proud of you.

But part of being safe means continuing to take your breaks and taking care of yourselves. You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.

It can be easy to take too much on in a stressful and hectic situation like the one you’re facing in the camps. So if you feel like you need help, please reach out to your union, co-workers, or managers to get it.

This situation has been incredibly tough. I don’t know that I have ever gone through anything as challenging and heart wrenching as these fires.

But in spite of all the stress and sleepless nights, I remain hopeful. We are a strong union with strong members. I know we will persevere and I know we will prevail.

You are all in the hearts and thoughts of UFCW members across the country. We will continue working on your behalf to ensure we get through this together.

In solidarity,

Douglas O’Halloran
UFCW Local 401