Labour College of Canada announces partnership with Brock University

The Labour College of Canada (LCC) is proud to announce a new partnership with Brock University. Under the agreement, successful completion of approved LCC courses may be recognized as transfer credits towards a certificate or undergraduate degree in Labour Studies at Brock.

The eligible courses include Unions in the Political Economy, Labour Leadership and Organizing Change, and Growing the Movement: Inside and Out.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with such a first-class post-secondary institution as Brock University. This is an historic moment for the Labour College of Canada,” said Hassan Yussuff, CLC President and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Labour College of Canada. “The Labour College empowers graduates and equips them to tackle today’s challenges as they take on new leadership roles within the labour movement. This unique opportunity will allow Labour College graduates to further their education in labour studies, and help shape strong leaders of the future.”

“Our department is internationally recognized as an innovative leader in labour studies research, teaching, and public engagement,” says Kendra Coulter, Chair of the Department of Labour Studies. “We are delighted to be able to recognize the knowledge and experience of labour activists from all across Canada through this partnership and look forward to welcoming them into our classes and academic community.”

The LCC Certificate Program is a labour studies and leadership program for active union members that supports critical thinking and collaborative learning. It is a union-made program offering university level courses on issues related to work and the rights of workers in Canada.

“This partnership offers a significant opportunity. It is a great example of how we can combine real-world experience with academic credentialling to create positive change in the world,” said Ingrid Makus, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

“The Labour College program has been instrumental in shaping labour leaders across Canada,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President and Labour College graduate. “This partnership will open even more doors for graduates by helping them further their post-secondary education in Labour Studies, making their valuable Labour College experience that much more versatile.”

Click here for more information on the LCC program, including the Brock University Labour Studies partnership.

End-of-year unemployment data shows need for continued support for workers

“Even as the vaccine roll-out begins, we can see that the tough times aren’t behind us yet,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff. “The end-of-year unemployment data remind us that strong government support continues to be a vital lifeline for workers and their families who are struggling through the economic shock of the pandemic.”

The December Labour Force Survey, released today by Statistics Canada, shows higher than expected job losses last month. Unemployment rose to 8.6 percent, with employment down 63,000 and job-market participation dropping for the second month in a row.

“These are unprecedented times. The important public health precautions implemented over the past year have had an exceptionally hard impact on workers,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Workers in Canada need to know that when the virus is contained, they can count on decent jobs, with good wages, and adequate benefits to help their families bounce back.”

Facing another round of shutdowns as COVID numbers rise, many workers across the country worried that their financial forecast is getting bleaker. Recent reports have revealed stories of personal support workers checking into homeless shelters and other workers failing to claim the federal government’s sick leave program out of fear of reprisal.

“Investing in Canada’s workers is a direct investment in our economy and it is vital to an economic recovery. The federal government must remain focused on income support and assistance to ensure that workers’ jobs are protected,” said Yussuff. “As we invest in a healthy recovery, Canada must also prepare for the long-term future by disaster-proofing our economy so that we are ready when the next crisis hits.”

Lessons from 2020: The pandemic brought out the best in Canada’s workers

“Canada’s unions are marking the end of 2020 by looking back on all that has been accomplished to protect workers and their families through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world has been forever changed, but people across Canada have come together to focus on our collective good.

Though the pandemic is not over and there is continued uncertainty, I have no doubt the people of Canada will continue to come together to do what is best for our families, our communities and the future of the country.

Over the course of the last few months, workers and their families have spoken out. Hundreds of thousands of people took action – writing to their MPs, holding meetings, sharing stories – and as a result the federal government created several important programs.

Throughout this pandemic, we have been reminded of the power of activism. When people come together to raise their voices, great things can happen – like emergency benefits, paid sick leave, and real discussions about the future of child care and long-term care.

This holiday season, Canada’s unions call on people across this country to recognize the thousands of frontline workers who have kept our communities running throughout the pandemic. Many of these people who will be working through the holidays. Honour them by continuing to heed public health guidelines.

This has been one of the most challenging years any of us has ever faced. As we mark the end of 2020 and all the challenges it posed, we can look toward 2021 with hope and optimism.

There are still challenges ahead. We need to remain vigilant to ensure that Canada continues to invest in people. But this pandemic has reminded us what it means to work together.

Personally, and on behalf of Canada’s unions, I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.”

Hassan Yussuff
President, Canadian Labour Congress

Canada’s unions stand with India’s farmers and farm workers

Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with farmers and agricultural workers in India as they continue to protest recent reforms to agricultural laws that deregulate the industry and leave farmers and farm workers vulnerable to exploitation by international corporations.

“Deregulating local produce markets will have a devastating impact on farmers, farm workers and food security in India,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff. “We stand with the international labour movement to support workers who are taking to the streets to protest these reforms and fight for their rights.”

India’s central and local governments passed three farm acts in September. Taken together, these acts threaten to impoverish millions of small farmers and leave millions more farm workers unemployed. Farmers’ unions have been protesting since August, escalating to a national general strike on November 26, 2020.

The government of India has also proposed reforms that undermine unions and violate international labour standards that India has ratified as a member of the International Labour Organization.

“The government’s legislation leaves farmers and workers at the mercy of large multinational corporations and global commodity price swings,” said Yussuff. “We deplore the fact that some states in India are also using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to suspend labour laws and attack workers’ rights. The international community has to stand up.”

The protesting farmers are making several demands, including asking that the new farm laws be repealed; that all repressive measures taken against protesters cease; and that movement leaders who have been arrested be released. Other workers’ unions in the country have joined the protests in support of the farmers.

Canada’s unions call for pathway to permanent residency for all migrant workers

Canada’s unions are marking International Migrants Day by calling on the federal government to offer a pathway to permanent residency to all migrant workers who wish to apply.

The federal government recently announced that it will be accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants working in the healthcare sector. This important announcement recognizes the crucial contributions refugee workers have made to the safety and wellbeing of communities across the country, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Canada’s unions are concerned that the eligibility criteria are too narrow.

“While we applaud the government’s recent announcement, the option to apply for permanent residency should be available to migrant workers in all sectors,” said Hassan Yussuff, CLC President. “The pandemic has shown that migrant workers provide essential services. All migrant workers deserve the opportunity to stay in Canada and to have their human and labour rights protected, just as any other worker.”

This week, the federal government also announced that it will allow seasonal migrant workers from Trinidad and Tobago – stuck in Canada due to COVID-19 travel restrictions – to apply for open work permits. This grants them job mobility, and gives them access to healthcare and employment insurance while Canadian officials negotiate their return home.

Although this is a step in the right direction, it highlights the vulnerability of migrant workers.

Migrant workers face insecurity, discrimination and often work in dangerous conditions. Their precarious position leaves them dependant on employers and makes them especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The pandemic has only made this worse.

During the initial quarantine period earlier this year, migrant workers reported wage issues, food insecurity and a lack of required public health measures in their accommodations. By the month of November, nearly 2,000 migrant workers on farms across Canada had fallen ill with COVID-19, and three had died.

“The federal government must also ensure that migrant workers have comprehensive worker protections to prevent exploitation, abuse, mistreatment and discriminatory workplace policies,” said Yussuff. “These workers have been doing critical work throughout the pandemic to keep our families and communities safe and cared for, while they faced instability, insecurity and unfair working and living conditions. It’s past time for their efforts to be recognized and valued.”

Canada’s unions believe that all workers in Canada should be treated fairly. Migrant workers deserve a fair future just as all workers do. Our country’s recovery depends on the expansion of equal rights and protections for all workers so we can ensure a better, more inclusive, and just economic recovery.

Canada’s unions welcome new bill to adopt Indigenous rights framework

Canada’s unions welcome the federal government’s recent announcement and subsequent tabling of a bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), a commitment which was to be fulfilled before the end of the year.

The new bill, Bill C-15, comes four years after former NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262, a similar private members bill that died in the Senate.

“By introducing Bill C-15, the federal government is taking a long overdue and much needed step on the path toward reconciliation,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The Bill would require the government to take concrete action to ensure that Canadian laws are consistent with the Declaration.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People establishes a framework of global minimum human rights standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Just as Bill C-262 did before it, the new Bill affirms UNDRIP as a universal international human rights framework with application in Canadian law.

The Bill would require the federal government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to:

  • Ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration;
  • Prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP, to be completed as soon as practicable, but no later than three years after the day on which this section comes into force; and
  • Prepare and table an annual report on progress on the action plan, and to align the laws of Canada with UNDRIP.

Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for the government to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit persons who continue to face the deep brunt of the legacy of colonial violence.

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to pass and enact Bill C-15 in a timely fashion and are joining Indigenous leaders and community members in stressing that Indigenous peoples have been waiting far too long for substantive and resolute measures from the federal government when it comes to justice and reconciliation.

“The government must seize this opportunity to make significant and meaningful change in the lives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and move forward on the path to true reconciliation,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau.

Human Rights Day: equitable COVID-19 recovery requires investment in care

Canada’s unions are marking International Human Rights Day by calling for long-term investments in the care sector.

“Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” is the United Nations theme for this year’s International Human Rights Day, which is observed December 10.

“It is critical that Canada’s COVID-19 recovery efforts tackle the human rights failures that have been exposed by the pandemic. Significant government investments in the care sector will help level the playing field for those most affected by this virus,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau.

“We welcome the federal government’s recent commitments to invest in public care systems. Canada must focus on creating better jobs, improving working conditions, and addressing the deep disparities within our economy,” he added.

The pandemic has demonstrated how our communities rely on precarious, low-wage work and unpaid labour in critical care sectors. This includes child care, early childhood education, elderly care, mental health, and other social care services that serve the health and safety of our communities.

Many of the workers in these sectors are Black, Indigenous, women of colour and recent immigrants. While this work is deemed “essential”, it is undervalued and workers face poor working conditions, violence, harassment and numerous other risks to their health and safety. They also face a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and a lack of job security and access to benefits.

“This global crisis has laid bare what we’ve been saying for years: systemic discrimination and marginalization have put certain groups at a disadvantage. Entire communities are having a much harder time recovering due to unequal access to opportunities and services such as employment, health care and housing,” said Rousseau. “Long-term investment in care is crucial to disaster-proofing our economy, safeguarding our social safety net against future crises, and ensuring our collective well-being.”

Sign our petition urging the government to increase investments in our public care systems so we can move forward together and build a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Canada’s unions call for long-term solutions to end gender-based violence

Canada’s unions are marking the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by calling on the federal government to commit to long-term solutions to help survivors and to put an end to gender-based violence.

December 6 marks the 31st anniversary of the shooting at Montréal’s École Polytechnique where fourteen women were killed in what was then Canada’s deadliest massacre.

In April of this year that record was surpassed when 22 people were tragically killed in Nova Scotia.

“Both events were motivated by misogyny and both these tragedies spotlight the lethalness of Canada’s gender-based violence crisis,” said CLC Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker. “However, this crisis is not limited to mass murder: a woman is killed by an intimate or former partner every six days in this country.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gender-based violence crisis in Canada. With many workers laid off or working from home, those experiencing domestic violence can become trapped at home with their abuser. They may find it increasingly difficult to seek help, contact family and friends, or to make plans to leave.

Even when women have the courage to leave, there isn’t always a safe place to go. Before the pandemic began, women and children were turned away from domestic violence shelters more than 19,000 times every month in Canada. Now, 61 percent of women’s shelters are reporting a spike in demand for services at a time when they have also been forced to reduce their capacity in order to comply with public health guidelines.

“We welcome the government’s recently announced $100 million investment in women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help meet the surge in demand. But these investments fall short of what’s needed to truly tackle Canada’s gender-based violence crisis,” said Clarke Walker. “One-time funding boosts will not help repair our crumbling social infrastructure. Anti-violence organizations need long-term core operational funding in order to effectively support survivors and keep everyone safe.”

Trans people, Indigenous, Black, racialized people, women with disabilities, refugee, migrant, and undocumented women all face increased risks and barriers when trying to access support. These communities are often hit hardest by the ongoing strain on services.

“As we honour lives lost to gender-based violence, let’s also take action to prevent future tragedies. No one who is in a violent situation should be rejected or turned away when trying to get help. The time to invest is now,” said Clarke Walker.

Find a virtual vigil for December 6 in your community here.

Workers with disabilities must help shape Canada’s Disability Inclusion Strategy

Canada’s unions are marking December 3 – the International Day for Persons with Disabilities –by calling on the federal government to include persons with disabilities in Canada’s economic recovery strategy.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s unions have collaborated with disability rights coalitions like the Include Me Campaign, to highlight the unique challenges and barriers faced by persons with disabilities during this health crisis.

“We know that the current health crisis has intensified the discrimination and stigma towards workers with disabilities. Hard-won workplace accommodations are at risk when the office becomes virtual, and workers with disabilities are at a greater risk of being laid off or having their jobs furloughed,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President.

“It’s critical that we shine a light on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities during this pandemic, especially those whose experiences are amplified by multiple marginalized identities including women, Indigenous and racialized people, and those in the LGBTQ2SI community.”

Even before the pandemic, unemployment rates ranged between 35 per cent for people with ‘mild’ disabilities to 74 per cent for people with ‘severe’ disabilities. High levels of poverty and unemployment have only worsened for persons with disabilities in the midst of this crisis.

Meanwhile, the reliance on affordable housing, income and health care supports is greater than ever – programs for which funding and availability already vary greatly across the country.

The federal government’s throne speech earlier this fall highlighted many new and important initiatives to help address the disproportionate impacts of this crisis on persons with disabilities. This included a new Disability Inclusion Plan, which would feature:

  • A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
  • A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and
  • A better process to determine eligibility for government disability programs and benefits.

“While we welcome the new disability inclusion strategy, we are also calling for the voices of workers with disabilities and their unions to be at the forefront,” added Rousseau.

“These discussions will guide the design and implementation of this strategy and must ensure that it adequately addresses the barriers to employment and economic security that workers with disabilities face.”

The federal government can help alleviate anxiety by investing in jobs and collaborating with unions on initiatives like a robust employment strategy for persons with disabilities, making long-term care part of public health care, supporting a child care strategy, and implementing national pharmacare.

Learn more about the CLC’s Forward Together campaign at canadianplan.ca.

Canada’s unions mark World AIDS Day by calling for universal pharmacare

Canada’s unions are marking World AIDS Day by calling on the federal government to implement single-payer, universal pharmacare. This call has taken on new urgency, given that millions of workers have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are now struggling to pay for their prescription medications.

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1, in support of those living with HIV and to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme is Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.

Workers here in Canada and around the world have long called for meaningful investments in public health care, protections for frontline workers and global access to medicines and vaccines. The global response to the COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics must aim to eliminate stigma and discrimination and ensure the protection and promotion of human rights.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” says CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “People living with or affected by HIV have been made especially vulnerable by the COVID pandemic, and not only in terms of increased health risk but in terms of access to the medications they need.”

The pandemic has drastically impacted the lives and livelihoods of workers around the world, highlighting strong connections between access to health care and social inequality. It has exposed existing racial, gender, social and economic inequalities, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of new HIV infections in Canada rose by 25.5%. Globally, in the last year, 38 million people were living with HIV and 25.4 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV and 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

“Canadian unions are pushing back against austerity and privatization measures to ensure a robust response and recovery that ensures our collective well-being,” said Yussuff. “The current strain on our public health care system threatens access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Now more than ever, we need a Canadian plan that’s rooted in our way of doing things – and that means taking care of one another.”

To write to your MP on this issue, click here.