BHM: Canada’s unions honour the past to help shape the future

February 1, 2024

This Black History Month, Canada’s unions are celebrating the history and legacy of Black community members who have stood for justice and made Canada a more equitable country.

“In the face of adversity and deep inequities, the actions of courageous Black community trailblazers and activists have carved out room for increased equity for Black and racialized workers and community members,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the CLC. “This progress is evident not only in our workplaces but also in the very fabric of the communities we inhabit. We honour these trailblazers by continuing the fight for justice and equity.”

Canada’s unions continue to support Black communities’ calls to tackle pervasive systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. The reach of anti-Black racism is wide, impacting community members across their entire lifecycle and following individuals everywhere they go: from their educational institutions, to their workplaces, to the communities in which they reside.

Anti-Black racism is systemic – deeply rooted in Canada’s foundation as a violently colonial nation – and creates major barriers to economic and social advancement and empowerment for Black workers and communities. For generations – and still to this day – persistent labour market discrimination has seen Black workers consistently earning lower wages and experiencing hurdles at every stage of employment, beginning at the initial hiring process, to advancement and promotion, as well as retention.

To address these issues, Canada’s unions continue to demand that the federal government take concrete steps to ensure anti-Black racism and discrimination are meaningfully tackled, and that Black workers have access to full and fair participation in the labour market. The government can work toward eliminating systemic anti-Black racism in employment by implementing the recommendations of the Employment Equity Review Task Force. The Task Force held consultations with stakeholder groups, including Canada’s unions, and its extensive report detailed tangible ways to ensure a more inclusive and equitable Canadian workforce. Among its recommendations is the inclusion of Black workers as a designated group under the Employment Equity Act to take into account the unique barriers experienced by Black workers.

We call on the federal government to:

  • Ensure the reform and modernization of the Employment Equity Act includes employer requirements to divulge pay gaps affecting Black workers, and a plan to narrow and eliminate the gender and multigenerational racial pay gap;
  • Create an intersectional national anti-Black racism strategy, including strong employment and pay targets and concrete measures to address systemic labour-market discrimination and disadvantages faced by Black workers;
  • Uphold the human rights of Black workers and redress the injustices faced by Black federal public service employees via the Black Class Action lawsuit; and
  • Immediately release Canada’s renewed Anti-Racism Strategy, and the National Action Plan on Combatting Hate to address the rising tide of racism and hate across Canada.

Join our calls by writing to your MP here, and check out our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all month long to learn more about some of the incredible pioneers and activists in Black Canadian history who fought to make Canada a more just place for all.

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