Union women: Stronger than ever

March 7, 2023

Union women across Canada are marking International Women’s Day by celebrating our collective victories and preparing for the coming challenges in the ongoing fight for women’s rights and gender equity. Canada’s unions are lifting up women’s voices, highlighting examples of how women have organised to win, and pledging to continue to be a driving force for progress in workplaces and in society.

“So much of what we have accomplished when it comes to women’s rights and gender justice at work in Canada is a direct result of union women working together to push for change; sector by sector, workplace by workplace, in our communities and on the national stage. It’s time we celebrate what we can achieve when we work together,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Union women are not strangers to being on the frontlines of advocating for and achieving victories in the name of working women, victories that ultimately benefit all workers and their families. These wins include the introduction of paid maternity and parental leave in Canada back in 1971,  legislated paid domestic violence leave, and progress in organising new bargaining units  in women-dominated sectors like retail. Union women have been leading the charge delivering results for gender justice at work. 

Since the launch of #DoneWaiting, thousands of activists have taken action and committed themselves to championing women’s rights and gender equity in workplaces across Canada. We demanded – and won – progress at all levels of government to end wage discrimination, end sexual harassment and violence, fix the child care crisis and make work fair for women. In the last five years, we won some incredible victories, including: 

  • The adoption of federal pay equity legislation in 2018;
  • 30 billion dollars pledged in the 2021 federal budget to spend over five years on a new national child care system;
  • The introduction, in 2022, of federal child care legislation; and
  • Canada finally ratifying ILO C-190 in 2023, committing to a world of work free of harassment and violence, in particular gender-based violence.

“From coast to coast to coast, union women have blazed the trail in the fight for a more feminist and equitable Canada. We are emboldened by our victories to keep pushing the envelope as gender justice champions in every workplace and community,” added Siobhán Vipond, Executive Vice-President at the CLC.

As we look ahead, Canada’s unions are committed to continuing to push decision makers to take further actions to #EmbraceEquity from coast to coast. Our vision includes:

  • A commitment to value women’s work by creating a national care strategy to train, recruit and retain workers in care sectors so we can end wage discrimination in a sector that disproportionately employs women, especially racialized and newcomer women;
  • Action to end gender-based violence and harassment at work and collaborate with unions, employers and all levels of government to implement ILO C-190 and make work safer for women, trans and gender non-conforming workers;
  • Support for the calls of child care advocates and sector workers to advance Bill C-35 on respecting early learning and child care in Canada until the right of every child to accessible, affordable, inclusive and high quality child care becomes enshrined in Canadian law; and
  • Investments from our federal government into a Care Economy Commission that will: examine paid and unpaid care work and develop a roadmap to meet the increasing demands for care; reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work, including by improving access to public care services for children, the elderly and people living with disabilities; and build a broader and more inclusive labour market strategy to achieve high-quality, equitable care jobs across all care sectors. 

Join us by taking the pledge to be a gender justice champion at work.

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