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Photos: Thousands march in Toronto for Labour Day parade

Annual parade is “a celebration of all the things we are accomplishing together and a reminder about why we fight,” said Tracy McMaster, a member of OPSEU.

This year's parade theme, Step Up & Speak Out, calls for strong laws that protect workers' rights to fair wages, benefits and a union voice at work, and speaks to the role of labour in challenging racism and discrimination.

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Dan Pearce / Torstar News Service Order this photo

This year's parade theme, Step Up & Speak Out, calls for strong laws that protect workers' rights to fair wages, benefits and a union voice at work, and speaks to the role of labour in challenging racism and discrimination.

Alan Doucette’s father spent two years less a day in jail for union activity.

As member of the Canadian Seaman’s Union, he was part of the 1946 strike at England’s London Harbour, fighting for worker’s rights after the Second World War.

It’s a story his son has never forgotten.

“He was very proud of that because he did it on principle,” said Doucette, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 873.

“That’s why I belong to union and that’s why I’m marching today.”

Doucette is just one of thousands of people who gathered in downtown Toronto to support the labour movement Monday morning.

Representatives of CUPE local 79 march along Queen St. W. during the annual Toronto Labour day parade, September 4, 2017.

Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star

Representatives of CUPE local 79 march along Queen St. W. during the annual Toronto Labour day parade, September 4, 2017.

“The Labour Day parade is a celebration of all the things we are accomplishing together and a reminder about why we fight,” said Tracy McMaster, a member of OPSEU, which represents 130,000 public service workers across the province.

For Francesco Luberto, who spent decades working in road construction, on water mains and sewers, and bridges, the parade was a chance to celebrate his retirement five years ago.

“It gave me the opportunity and the chance to enjoy my retirement. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my life after my wife,” he said of his union, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 183, which represents construction workers.

Jagmeet Singh, an Ontario NDP MPP running for leadership of the federal party, said the parade is an opportunity to celebrate the victories of the labour movement — everything from weekends to workers’ safety.

A closed store on Queen St. W. during the annual Toronto Labour day parade, September 4, 2017.

Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star

A closed store on Queen St. W. during the annual Toronto Labour day parade, September 4, 2017.

But an ongoing strike by about 700 ground crew workers at Pearson International Airport is a reminder there’s more work to do.

“It just highlights how important it is to continue to fight for rights,” he said.

It’s a sentiment Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed in a statement Monday morning.

“I have spent the summer travelling around our province, and what I am hearing is that people are worried.”

“We need to do all we can to ensure that people are given every chance to get ahead during this period of change,” she said, adding that’s why the government is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

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