Know and Enjoy Your Rights and Freedoms
/ Author: Wayne Prins
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Know and Enjoy Your Rights and Freedoms

We should only restrict rights and freedoms in the most extreme circumstances—and not a moment longer than necessary

By Wayne Prins, Executive Director

I live in Alberta. On June 18 it was announced that, since we reached the 70 percent vaccination threshold for those eligible for the shot, most COVID restrictions will end on July 1. This is a day we’ve been waiting a long time for, and it’s a milestone worth celebrating.

There are certainly many, including myself, who are very pleased and excited for our return to normal activities. At the same time, I’m intrigued by the remarkable number of people who are expressing concern that Alberta’s reopening plans are too aggressive and too quick.

I can only assume that those who are expressing such opinions would rather the government continue the imposition of restrictions and prohibitions on our rights and privileges for a while longer. Until when? I’m not sure. Just longer.

While I appreciate the sentiment of caution, I also believe that the preference or willingness to prolong restrictions well beyond the point of absolute necessity is rooted in a lack of understanding, or at least an underappreciation, for the rights that are being restricted.

To be clear, I support the drastic measures that have been necessary to battle this pandemic. But I also have a profound regard for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today, many of which have had wars fought and lives sacrificed to preserve.

We should only restrict such rights and freedoms in the most extreme circumstances—and not a moment longer than necessary.

Again, holding such an opinion doesn’t originate in really missing our normal routines (although I certainly do). It originates in knowing and understanding our rights in the first place.

This reminds me of instances where, as a CLAC representative working in the field, I found members largely unaware of the rights and privileges they had under the collective agreement. As a result, they were far more susceptible to having those rights infringed upon—sometimes without even knowing it.

My common refrain to members is “read your collective agreement until you know what your rights are, and then assert and enjoy those rights.”

Whether the context is fighting a pandemic as an entire country or simply reporting to work in a unionized environment, it is each person’s responsibility to know and understand their rights.

And once you know your rights, enjoy them! Starting July 1, I know I will.

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