National Indigenous History Month
World Press Freedom Day
National Day of Mourning
Repetitive Strain Injury
Asian Heritage Month
Black History Month
16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Trans Day of Remembrance
Affordability Crisis in Canada
Overturning Roe v. Wade
Reports the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects a woman’s bodily autonomy in choosing to have a safe abortion, have sent a shockwave around the world.
Our collective grasp on women’s rights is frail, even, clearly, in countries that view themselves as world leaders. Generations of women have had to fight against the systematic and purposeful erosion of the ability to exercise our freedom of choice. There is perhaps no greater symbol of lost ground on our basic freedoms than the impending defeat of Roe v. Wade.
Canadians must be loud in our disdain for this decision by our neighbours, but we must also focus our energy and attentions on our own communities and governments, to prevent the erosion of our rights here at home. Tenuous, fragile threads tie our rights to theirs. The border between our two realities is not so wide, nor does it protect us from American anti-choice groups pouring money and disinformation into our country to pull our legislation in the same direction.
In many jurisdictions in Canada, social conservatives are dragging our politics to the right. Just last year, a motion was put forward by a Conservative Member of Parliament to amend the criminal code to chip away at abortion freedoms, and 82 MPs voted in support. And provincial governments have used the Notwithstanding clause twice in recent years to overrule the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This decision by the justices of the SCOTUS is the product of nearly 50 years of attempts to tear down abortion rights in the United States. This news adds to the wave of demoralising laws that criminalize and harm LGBTQ families and children in many US states. The language of the draft decision hints that similar logic could be used to overturn certain other fundamental rights, including those protecting the right to marry a person of a different race, private consensual sex for adults of the same gender, gay marriage, contraception and the right to not be forcibly sterilised, among others.
Those of us who fight for workers’ rights and human rights must be just as relentless.
While abortion remains decriminalized here in Canada, we still struggle with access to abortion services in many regions. We have our own battles to continue to fight.
No one who can become pregnant can know if they will need access to abortion services at some point in their life. This includes some trans-men, two spirit, non-binary and gender diverse people. Those necessary medical services need to be available freely, and on demand.
Unifor will defend reproductive rights. We will march for freedom and speak out against oppression and control. We cannot allow wealthy power brokers to intervene in the decisions made by a woman and her health care provider. We will vote.
It is impossible to ban abortions. It is only possible to ban safe abortions; to deny health care to those with a uterus.
Abortions are health care.
Unifor unequivocally denounces the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Lana Payne, National Secretary-Treasurer
Renaud Gagné, Québec Director
Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director
Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director
Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director
View the statement on our website here.
Equal Pay Day
In Canada, this year Equal Pay Day is April 12, 2022. Equal Pay Day marks the day that the average woman must work in order to have earned what the average man did in 2021. It’s 2022 and unions and other progressive organizations are still fighting to close the pay gap in Canada. We pride ourselves on so many progressive labour conditions but when it comes to ensuring women are paid equally we still fall short.
The pay gap is not just about gender. It’s about the intersectional lives of women of colour, Indigenous women, immigrant and migrant women, women with disabilities, elderly women and women who identify as LGBTQ. As women’s lives intersect with other forms of discrimination they experience, the gap increases substantially.
This year will be marked with an Ontario All-Party Leaders Debate on Women’s Economic Justice, making it the first Women’s political debate since 1985. It is well past time for women to be included in shaping policy to remove the gap. Visit equalpaycoalition.org to RSVP to watch the debate live on April 12 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET!
Unifor believes in equal pay for equal work. That belief informs our advocacy for legislation at the federal and provincial levels to ensure working women are treated equitably by all employers, unionized or not.
The union also works with coalition partners to fight for progressive policies that will shape a better future for all women. We join the Equal Pay Coalition in five key asks to end the gender pay gap.
Raising the minimum wage to a living wage,
Mandating paid sick days for workers,
Implementing the Pay Transparency Act,
Establishing affordable, accessible public child care with decent wages and conditions for child care workers, and
Rebuilding the economy by funding public services and providing health, community & social services, and education workers with decent wages and working conditions.
Just last month, we took a strong step toward these goals as Ontario joined every other province and territory and finally signed a child care agreement with the federal government. Progress is possible when we fight together.
For more information on Equal Pay Day, including facts to dispel common myths, please visit www.equalpaycoaliton.org.
Download the statement from our website.
Trans Day of Visibility
Unifor recognizes and invites all members to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2022. This annual day celebrates the value and resilience of transgender people both within the union and around the world.
Trans people are those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth and exist within all countries, communities and religious groups around the world. This identity is separate from an individual’s sexual orientation.
Transphobia and anti-trans discrimination remains prevalent in Canada and is closely associated with growing far-right movements and political parties. This makes workers’ commitments to equity and justice more urgent and demands that we celebrate and build off tangible wins.
On December 8, 2021, Canada’s conversion therapy law, passed unanimously by the House of Commons, received Royal Assent.
Activists and survivors from across the country campaigned for decades to discredit and ban this dangerous practice.
The fight for trans rights, dignity, and equality is not yet won. The continued need for solidarity and allyship with the trans community is a must for workers. As workers, we understand the importance of allyship. As an ally you inform those around you that you are supportive and attentive to the needs of the trans community. We must never forget that our allyship is predicated on actively listening and making change with, and for, trans communities.
A slew of anti-trans laws adopted across the United States reverberated in LGBTQ2 communities and families in recent months. These laws should serve as a reminder to all workers of the fragility of legal protections, and the importance of continued, devoted solidarity for trans, non-binary and two-spirit people.
Unifor wishes to honour trans, non-binary and two-spirit members, who continue to help build our union and strengthen our movement. Our union and society are made better, more educated, and compassionate through their contributions and labour.
Unifor asks members to share a message of support and solidarity on the Trans Day of Visibility.
Click here to download poster
Click here to download shareable
Working people bear the brunt of any war.
They are the ones sent into battle. Their neighborhoods in war zones are left in ruins. Families are devastated, even far from the frontlines, as sons, fathers, daughters and mothers are sent into battle, never to return. Or returning broken.
With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, working people will pay that price once again.
Unifor condemns this invasion, and we express our deep concern that further escalation of military conflicts will bring the world to the brink of war with enormous humanitarian consequences.
There is no such thing as a foreign war. Many Canadians have their roots in Ukraine, and still have families there. When a major power such as Russia invades another country, the resulting instability threatens us all.
Unifor stands with our trade union organizations in Europe to call for urgent dialogue and political solutions to ensure a stable outcome for Ukraine and guarantee security in Europe.
Unifor joins with IndustriALL and the European Trade Union Federation in calling for trade union solidarity across borders, and endorses their statements that only peace and security can ensure both the sustainable economic recovery workers need and the social justice programs working people and their families rely on.
We must spare a moment, too, for the journalists covering this and other wars. War correspondents put their lives on the line to keep us informed.
Lana Payne, National Secretary-Treasurer
Renaud Gagné, Québec Director
Employment Insurance Program