United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/articles/rss United Steelworkers Canada News Feed Wed, 23 Dec 2015 12:00:00 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Former Construction Manager Charged in B.C. Worker's Death Arrested in Montana https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/former-construction-manager-charged-in-b-c-workers-death-arrested-in-montana Tue, 15 Sep 2020 11:02:07 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/former-construction-manager-charged-in-b-c-workers-death-arrested-in-montana Gerald Karjala faces trial for criminal negligence causing the death of Sam Fitzpatrick on a Kiewit work site

A former manager for construction giant Peter Kiewit Sons has been arrested in the U.S. and is facing extradition to Canada to face trial for criminal negligence causing the death of a worker.

Gerald Karjala is one of two men charged alongside Kiewit in connection with the 2009 death of Sam Fitzpatrick on a hydroelectric worksite on the central B.C. coast.

The B.C. Prosecution Service confirmed Friday that Karjala was recently arrested in Montana and has been released on bail pending an extradition hearing scheduled for Nov. 10.

Karjala, engineer Timothy Rule and the company each face a single charge of criminal negligence causing death, charges that have been called unprecedented for a business of this size.

Fitzpatrick was 24 years old when he was killed by a falling boulder on a Kiewit construction project at Toba Inlet, north of Powell River, on Feb. 22, 2009. His younger brother, Arlen, watched it happen.

WorkSafeBC investigators later noted a "reckless disregard" for safety on the project, something Fitzpatrick had spoken up about in the weeks before he died. Just one day before the fatal rock fall, another boulder had tumbled down the same slope, causing serious damage to a piece of heavy equipment.

Though Fitzpatrick died more than a decade ago, criminal charges were only laid in May 2019 after a long campaign for accountability led by Fitzpatrick's friends, family and union activists.

Read the full article at cbc.ca

Sign up for Text Messages from District 3! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/sign-up-for-text-messages-from-district-3 Wed, 09 Sep 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/sign-up-for-text-messages-from-district-3  

Get the most up-to-date news and information from District 3 on your phone!

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  1. Send a message to 32323
  2. Type D3 in the message area.
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*Standard messaging and data rates may apply.

By submitting the above information, you agree to receive mobile alerts from USW District 3. At any time, you can stop receiving text messages by replying to a message with STOP.

For help or more information, you can email district3@usw.ca.

USW Endorses Motion 46 Guaranteed Livable Basic Income https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/usw-endorses-motion-46-guaranteed-livable-basic-income Wed, 09 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/usw-endorses-motion-46-guaranteed-livable-basic-income The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed how our economic policies and social programs are failing millions of Canadians and are contributing to disgraceful levels of income inequality in our country.

Canadians need bold and thoughtful measures to invest in the human capital of our country, to eliminate poverty, to improve health and education outcomes, and to provide real economic opportunity to all.

In accordance with our commitment to advancing economic and social justice in Canada, the United Steelworkers union is proud to endorse Motion 46 Guaranteed Livable Basic Income, submitted by Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan on August 10, 2020, to convert the Canada Emergency Response Benefit into a permanent Guaranteed Livable Basic Income.

A Guaranteed Livable Basic Income is an important step in eradicating poverty and strengthening our current economic safety net. Motion 46 addresses protections for all individuals in cases of future pandemics, natural disasters, increasing industry automation and job loss.

Alongside a just labour market and living wage, a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income will help to ensure all Canadians are able to live with dignity and human rights, including responding to Call for Justice 4.5 of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which calls on the federal government to implement a guaranteed annual livable income.

The United Steelworkers union encourages its members and all Canadians to sign in support of Motion 46 at www.leahgazan.ca/basicincomemotion and to write to their Members of Parliament in support of Motion 46.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
United Steelworkers National Director

Download PDF


Labour Day 2020: the Pandemic Reminds us of the Importance of our Movement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/labour-day-2020-the-pandemic-reminds-us-of-the-importance-of-our-movement Mon, 07 Sep 2020 09:45:54 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/labour-day-2020-the-pandemic-reminds-us-of-the-importance-of-our-movement On Labour Day, I am reflecting on the meaning of solidarity and how it is the foundation of our movement. This pandemic has been a profound reminder of the importance of solidarity, for the trade union movement and progressive movements more generally.

This Labour Day, and every day before and after, we need to stand up for people who have lost their jobs in the pandemic. As trade unionists, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with the frontline workers who have worked around the clock during the pandemic, ensuring the sick and dying are cared for, that we can buy groceries, that safety precautions are in place, that parents can go to work with their children at daycare and so much more.

This Labour Day we need to stand up against racial injustice and come to terms with it within our own lives and organizations. Solidarity is standing up against racism and the ways it is perpetuated – day after day. It’s a centuries old problem and our resolve and our solidarity must be even stronger.

We have to continue our fights with renewed energy, and with the conviction that better is possible and WE CAN WIN. COVID has shone a flood light into the many ways that governments everywhere are letting us down and giving corporations a free pass. Many governments talk a good line – but where is the success to show for it? Why are they repeatedly failing to protect local jobs? Why has the gender wage gap not been eliminated? Why are they not protecting our industries from unfair trade and tariffs? Why, so many years after promising it, is there still no universal child care program?

Solidarity is standing up against the challenges that we face, knowing always that we are in this together. I am as hopeful as I am committed.

Ken Neumann
National Director

This Labour Day, Don’t Just Thank A Union – Join A Union https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/this-labour-day-dont-just-thank-a-union-join-a-union Fri, 04 Sep 2020 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/this-labour-day-dont-just-thank-a-union-join-a-union Like everything else in our world right now this Labour Day is different.  A global pandemic has made very real how connected people are.  At the same time across North America, the struggle against racism and inequality has become a rallying point for overdue systemic change.  Whether it’s the pandemic or the fight against racism our union understands that we’re all in this together.

Rightly so many are singing the praises of essential workers.  In fact, over the last few months, governments, and some employers, have provided pandemic bonuses to essential workers. The value of their work hasn’t changed, it’s just finally being recognized.  If we’re sincere about celebrating essential workers then those wage increases must be made permanent.   

Throughout this pandemic, most of our members have been working delivering the goods and services we all depend on.  Steelworkers know workers are essential every day, but essential doesn’t mean sacrificial.  Workers’ have a right to a healthy and safe workplace but today too many are being asked to take risks that bosses themselves would never take.

Health and safety are at the forefront of our union’s work, and we can say it doesn’t discriminate, but jobs today still do. The reality remains too many front-line workers, often a highly genderized and racialized workforce, are underpaid, under-protected and undervalued.  Without question race and gender play a role.   

Many workers have been reaching out to us as they do not feel safe on the job.  Others feel unsafe because of the outright racism or discrimination they experience, whether from the boss, customers or the community they serve.  One thing remains very clear – no employer will protect workers like a union collective agreement.  The good news is that courageous workers are seeing this and are taking the next step.  This Labour Day workers are not just thanking unions they are joining them, from coffee shops to credit unions, from mills to mines.

The labour movement has long known this truth, that workers only get ahead when we know we are in this together.  It’s our job as unions to ensure we are open and inclusive.  We have a proud history of doing that.  We haven’t always got it right, but we’ve never been afraid to get better.  We’re committed to ensuring our union looks like our members and that our union looks more like our society.

All of us whether as organizations or individuals, have a job to make space for diverse voices that need to be heard and lend our voices when the forces of division and disunity try to drown them out.  As Steelworkers that’s what we do for our members when dealing with bad bosses – we have to do the same when dealing with systemic injustice.  For us, that means reaching out to workers who because of their job, race or age, may not have considered joining a union.  

I know this Labour Day many will feel unsettled.  Have faith – we are in this together.  In our union, we don’t go looking for fights, but when we get in them we’re committed to outlasting the boss – one day longer.  In the fight to build a better world, we pledge the same.

Solidarity forever!

Stephen Hunt
USW District 3 Director

A Physically Distant Labour Day in 2020 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/a-physically-distant-labour-day-in-2020 Thu, 03 Sep 2020 18:42:37 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/a-physically-distant-labour-day-in-2020 First off, I want to thank all our members and the workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic. While this year has certainly thrown us all challenges that we couldn’t have expected, I’ve never been more proud of the resiliency and generosity of Steelworkers.

Right now, when I think about what “solidarity” means to me, I think about how necessary it is for workers’ needs and rights to be at the forefront of rebuilding our economy post-COVID.

This includes continuing to stand behind the push for paid sick days for all, as well as recommitting daily – to tackle racism in all its forms, and in all the ways it shows up in our communities, workplaces and homes. This work will be hard, but doing it will be the only way we can have a truly just, equitable and fair society that works for everyone.

Labour Day is traditionally a celebration: a time to come together with our union family before summer ends and have a great day together while recognizing our labour history, the struggles we’ve been through and the victories we’ve achieved.

This year, Labour Day is going online, in car caravans or at physically distanced picnics.

In District 6, we are mourning the loss of a brother due to COVID-19, one of our members at Impala Platinum mines, northwest of Thunder Bay, who died in April.

In Hamilton, Labour Day means mourning the loss of a brother at National Steel Car on Sept. 2, due to a workplace death. No one should be killed for going to work.

So Labour Day 2020 is also a day for us to gather at a safe distance to remember those who can’t be with us. In both these cases, we send our condolences to the families and work families of those we have lost.

With school about to start, Labour Day is about solidarity with teachers and education workers who are organizing for more funding, training and safe class sizes so our kids, teachers and education workers will be safe when school returns.

Unions are working with activist organizations like $15 and Fairness and our political partner, the NDP, to fight for paid sick days for all so no one has to make an impossible choice between working sick or losing income.

While we can’t march together this Labour Day, let’s renew our solidarity by recommitting to the struggle for workers’ rights and social justice.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director


David Ellis Scholarships Awarded to Five District 3 Recipients https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/david-ellis-scholarships-awarded-to-five-district-3-recipients Thu, 03 Sep 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/david-ellis-scholarships-awarded-to-five-district-3-recipients Every year in Canada, 30 young workers are killed on the job while another 40,000 are injured, many of them seriously.

David Ellis was killed on his second day at work. He was 18 years old. In David’s honour, and in honour of all the other young workers killed or injured on the job, the United Steelworkers established the David Ellis Scholarship to fight to ensure all young workers come home from work healthy and safe.

The David Ellis Scholarship is a health and safety scholarship award available to children and grandchildren of any Steelworker member.

For 2020, District 3 Director Stephen Hunt, offered five scholarships of $500 to help selected high school students continue their education at university, college or another educational institution.

“Far too many young workers are killed on the job or seriously injured. All of us need to make sure young workers know the risks and know their rights on the job. Everyone has the right to be safe at work and to come home to their families at the end of the day,” said Stephen Hunt, District 3 Director.

The recipients of the 2020 David Ellis Scholarships for District 3 are:

Veronica Strykowski
Saskatoon, SK
Member: Corey Strykowski
USW Local 5117

Lexi Kruger
Saskatoon, SK
Member: Darrin Kruger
USW Local 7552

Nicole Smith
Winnipeg, MB
Member: Tracey Smith
USW Local 9074-53

Taylor Yakimovitch
St. Albert, AB
Member: Edwin Thompson
USW Local 5220

Ryan Piccolo
Burnaby, BC
Member: Mark Piccolo
USW Local 1944

“I want to extend my congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s David Ellis Scholarships and thank everyone who applied. Please keep up the good work in spreading health and safety messages to your family, friends, fellow students and co-workers,” added Hunt.


The District 6 NextGen Committee is raising money for Movember Canada! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/the-district-6-nextgen-committee-is-raising-money-for-movember-canada Wed, 02 Sep 2020 13:30:16 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/the-district-6-nextgen-committee-is-raising-money-for-movember-canada The District 6 NextGen Committee is raising money this year for Movember!

Every November, a global campaign is launched which encourages people to grow moustaches to raise awareness around prostate and testicular cancer – both of which are some of the leading causes of premature death among men.

The NextGen Committee will be selling T-shirts this year for $20.00 and all proceeds will be donated to Movember to support their research into men’s health. Men’s and Women’s sizes and cuts are available, as well as T-shirt or tank-top styles. The deadline for ordering is Wednesday, September 16, 2020 so don’t delay – support this great cause and get your order form here!

NextGen is a committee committed to developing leadership, community service, and political activism among activists 35 years old or younger in District 6. They are currently in the process of revamping the NextGen program. If you would like more information about NextGen or are interested in setting up a committee, you can contact the Co-Chairs of the D6 NextGen Committee: Briana Broderick (Briana.broderick@usw2010.ca) or Jordan Rego (jordanrego@gmail.com).

 To learn more about Movember, you can visit ca.movember.com.


Miners Rise to the Challenges of the Pandemic https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/miners-rise-to-the-challenges-of-the-pandemic Wed, 02 Sep 2020 10:05:12 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/miners-rise-to-the-challenges-of-the-pandemic Canadian mine sites have done well to keep employees and communities safe.

As September starts and schools and more businesses open back up, safety is on everyone’s minds. Six months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, how are mines in Canada doing at managing the risk of the virus to employees and communities?

COVID-19 cases and outbreaks at operations in Canada have been rare – in large part because the country as a whole has done a good job in keeping the case count low. But credit is also due to mining companies, which have generally worked together with employees, governments and communities to draw up new protocols and procedures to operate safely.

Myles Sullivan of the United Steelworkers union, which represents about 25,000 workers at mines across Canada, says working under the new protocols has been an adjustment for all involved, but it’s been a successful transition.

“We’ve had problems and it hasn’t been 100%, but overall, our members have learned a lot and I can say that the employers generally have worked co-operatively with our reps to make sure things are being done safely and properly,” Sullivan says. “There’s been a pretty good job all the way around on this thing from a large majority of the employers.”

On the other side, Sullivan says mine employees have been equally vested in doing their part to keep operations safe.

“Our folks want to go to work, they want to be safe and they want to earn a living, so they take it seriously – they know if there’s an outbreak it can impact the operations and their livelihoods.”

While cases have been rare at mine sites in Canada, one worker at Impala Platinum’s Lac des Îles mine, 85 km northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., died in April after contracting the virus, and 25 others were infected. The USW represents workers at the mine.

Read the full article in Canadian Mining Journal

Black Cat’s "Cruel" Lockout Ends https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/black-cats-cruel-lockout-ends Tue, 01 Sep 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/black-cats-cruel-lockout-ends A cruel 10-week lockout of its workforce by Black Cat Wear Parts in Selkirk, Man., has ended.

The 60 members of United Steelworkers Local 9074-12 were shut out of the plant at midnight on June 19, after the company rejected the union’s proposal for a two-year wage freeze without any further discussion or attempt to bargain further.

“We maintained a position put forward during negotiations that we would accept a two-year deal with zero increases, but the employer was not interested,” said Tony Sproule, USW Area Co-ordinator and lead negotiator. “We applied for Conciliation and discussions continued towards the resolution and amendments to the Collective Agreement that ended the lockout.”

On August 27, 2020, the membership voted to accept the latest offer bargained with the employer. The bargaining committee was able to achieve a wage increase that was approximately 50% higher than the offer rejected on June 19. The ratification of this offer concluded the 10-week lockout.

“During picketing, the membership remained incredibly strong and showed a huge amount of solidarity, and we maintained the same number of pickets during the entire 10-week lockout,” said Sproule. “No one was ecstatic about the last offer, but there were no longer talks of concessions on the table and equipment stopped being moved.”

“The agreement comes after a challenging round of bargaining with Black Cat Wear Parts,” said Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director. “Throughout the lockout, our members demonstrated the true meaning of solidarity and I thank all of the members and their families for their support during the lockout. I am proud that Steelworkers stood together to support the work of the bargaining committee and the Local 9074-12 leadership.”

This was the second lockout by Black Cat Wear Parts.

“The relationship with the employer and the workers has been damaged, to say the least,” added Sproule. “Can it be rebuilt again is a huge question, as this is the second lockout in 15 years at this operation.”

Meili’s NDP to Protect and Grow Jobs in Saskatchewan’s Steel Industry https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/meilis-ndp-to-protect-and-grow-jobs-in-saskatchewans-steel-industry Fri, 28 Aug 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/meilis-ndp-to-protect-and-grow-jobs-in-saskatchewans-steel-industry Today, Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili defended jobs in Canadian steel as 500 jobs are in danger as Evraz steel mill in Regina is set to lay off workers. Orders at the steel mill are declining due to governments choosing to use offshore steel in domestic projects and lower demand from the oil and gas industry.

“Hardworking families are being left behind by the federal government, and Scott Moe is doing nothing to put Saskatchewan workers first,” said Meili. “If I am elected Premier on October 26, I will push Justin Trudeau to deliver a fair deal for workers that ensures Canadian steel is used for major infrastructure projects in Canada, including the crucial pipelines that are necessary to get our oil and gas resources to market.”

“The steel that Canada needs can and should be made right here in Regina, by some of the hardest-working men and women in the world,” said USW 5890 President Mike Day. “The clock is ticking for up to 500 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who live and work right here in Saskatchewan. We need action now.”

“I’m pleased to see Ryan Meili and the Saskatchewan NDP taking action to protect steel jobs in Saskatchewan,” stated Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Western Canada Director. “Buying Canadian will keep good jobs in the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when it's critically important to support domestic manufacturers. If we lose jobs at Evraz, everyone in the community will lose as these workers support local businesses by spending money earned at their good-paying unionized jobs.”

“The ten biggest infrastructure projects in the last ten years under the Sask. Party have all gone to companies outside of Saskatchewan and even outside of Canada,” said NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon. “Before COVID-19 hit, that was a mistake, right now it is downright reckless. Scott Moe needs to get on the phone to his buddy Jason Kenney and make sure he understands the stakes because jobs and livelihoods of our friends and neighbours in Regina are at risk through no fault of their own.”

Wotherspoon also called on the Sask. Party to commit to using Saskatchewan steel in replacement lines for SaskEnergy. “When we’re spending our dollars on our infrastructure, we should be using our companies, our workers, and our products – grown, mined and manufactured right here in Saskatchewan.”

On October 26, Steelworkers are encouraged to vote to protect steel jobs in Saskatchewan.

Women of Steel Elk Valley Complete Annual Backpack Donation https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/women-of-steel-elk-valley-complete-annual-backpack-donation Fri, 28 Aug 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/women-of-steel-elk-valley-complete-annual-backpack-donation United Steelworkers Local 9346 Women of Steel have made their annual donation to help prepare local children for school.

90 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to underprivileged youth in the Elk Valley and the Crowsnest Pass

Co-chair Sarah Thompson says the funding for the donation needed to come from their head office as the annual fund raisers for the program, the Bust Stop Barbecue and Women’s day of Golf at the Sparwood golf course had to be cancelled.

“Obviously with COVID we couldn’t do any of that this year,” Thompson says. “So I appealed to our head office in Vancouver and told them our plight and they really stepped up and donated a bunch of money to us, and we really thank them for that.”

This is the 9th year Women of Steel has made the donation.

“It started when I was on maternity leave actually,” she says. “And when I came back to work I though it was a great program. So, we continue to do it and we’re just really happy we can help out in the community.”

The contents of the bags are tailored for each grade in each school with lists issued in June.


What Does Solidarity Mean to You? Post and You Could Win! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/what-does-solidarity-mean-to-you-post-and-you-could-win Fri, 28 Aug 2020 11:30:18 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/what-does-solidarity-mean-to-you-post-and-you-could-win  

This Labour Day, we’re turning our solidarity online more than ever. We want to hear what solidarity means to USW members across the country. From September 1-7, the USW is running a special social media contest where we want to hear what the word ‘solidarity’ means to you!

You can post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - make sure to include a photo, what solidarity means to you, the district that you’re from and the hashtag #USWLabourDay. Starting September 1-7 – there will be five draws to win a selection of USW swag of your choice.

Patterson Report Recommendations Ensure Worker Rights Are Human Rights https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/patterson-report-recommendations-ensure-worker-rights-are-human-rights Wed, 26 Aug 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/patterson-report-recommendations-ensure-worker-rights-are-human-rights Today’s release of Janet Patterson’s report “New Directions: Report of the Workers’ Compensation Board Review, 2019” is critically required to protect the historic compromise between workers and employers. This report brings a worker-centric approach to workers’ compensation in British Columbia. It also recommends that the Workers’ Compensation Act be amended to “explicitly acknowledge the duty to accommodate as that duty is defined in human rights jurisprudence.”

“I appreciate the government has released this thorough report containing over 100 recommendations from Ms. Patterson highlighting the voices of injured workers and their experiences of a broken system in the province,” said Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director.

In 2019, Janet Patterson was tasked to review the workers’ compensation system in British Columbia and to make recommendations to improve the system. The extensive 516-page report makes public feedback from more than 2,000 people and organizations.

Last summer, USW District 3 made a submission to Ms. Patterson to give an overarching perspective on problems encountered with the policies and practices currently in place, as well as to provide opinion on positive changes that we believe can be implemented.

“I want to thank Ms. Patterson for her thoughtful report and consideration of our recommendations, and I commend all of the injured workers and their loved ones who courageously shared their stories. I am confident their experiences have been captured in this report.”

“Previous governments have favoured a system that favours employers and I am pleased the BC NDP government is taking long-overdue steps to fix a broken system. The WCB leadership and governance must visibly reflect a worker-centric culture and focus on safer workplaces and better outcomes for injured workers and their families.”


Open Letter to the Federal Government: Canada Needs Pharmacare Now https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/open-letter-to-the-federal-government-canada-needs-pharmacare-now Tue, 11 Aug 2020 09:21:46 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/open-letter-to-the-federal-government-canada-needs-pharmacare-now The United Steelworkers union has signed onto an open letter calling on the federal government to immediately take action to establish a national, universal, single-payer public pharmacare program.  

August 6, 2020 

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Morneau and Minister Hajdu, 

Now more than ever, Canada desperately needs a universal, single-payer, public pharmacare program. As organizations that have strongly advocated for this program, we are appealing to you, as our elected leaders, to get to work on delivering pharmacare to Canadians.  

During the 2019 federal election, we were pleased to see the Liberal Party of Canada commit to implementing a national pharmacare program guided by the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. However, we have yet to see your government take concrete action on this issue. 

There has never been a more urgent moment to guarantee universal access to prescription medications. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 5 Canadians had either no drug coverage at all or had inadequate coverage. That number has increased significantly during the pandemic, with millions of people losing their jobs and their employer-sponsored drug plans. 

As we prepare for a second wave of COVID-19, it is of utmost importance to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Universal, public pharmacare would help us achieve this by ensuring that everyone in Canada can access the medications they need.  

This essential new program would help the millions of Canadian families and businesses that are struggling economically due to this crisis. Universal, public pharmacare would allow families to save on average $350 per year, and businesses to save on average $750 per year per employee. This program would also lead to system-wide savings of $5 billion a year. 

By consolidating our bargaining power through a national pharmacare program, we could significantly reduce the costs of medications, including new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines that come on the market. 

There is widespread support for universal, public pharmacare across the country. In May, a diverse coalition of 200 organizations signed a joint statement calling on your government to immediately begin implementing this program.  

And yet, universal, public pharmacare was absent from your government’s recent fiscal and economic update. For decades, we have been told that pharmacare would be too costly, and that governments simply cannot afford it. It is evident from government spending in the past few months that if there is a will, there is always a way. If governments across the country can provide $16 billion in aid to the fossil fuels sector, surely we can afford to implement this program that would benefit all Canadians. 

As the pre-budget consultations are underway, you have a unique opportunity to shape Canada for the better by implementing universal, public pharmacare. This program should be an integral part of your government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We look forward to seeing immediate action towards implementing universal, public pharmacare in the coming weeks. As always, we are eager to support you in realizing this vision. 


Pauline Worsfold
Chair, Canadian Health Coalition

Linda Silas
President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Bill Chedore
President, Congress of Union Retirees of Canada

Rick Smith
Executive Director, Broadbent Institute

Danyaal Raza
Chair, Canadian Doctors for Medicare

Ken Neumann
National Director for Canada, United Steelworkers

Jerry Dias
President, Unifor

Larry Brown
President, National Union of Public and General Employees

Mark Hancock
National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Diego Marchese
Executive Vice President, Mission, Research, Social Enterprise, Heart & Stroke

Anita Huberman
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade

Christina Warner
Co-Director, Council of Canadians

Chris Aylward
National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada


Download the PDF

New Campaign Aims to Make Pandemic Pay Permanent for Essential Care Workers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/new-campaign-aims-to-make-pandemic-pay-permanent-for-essential-care-workers Mon, 10 Aug 2020 14:52:08 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/new-campaign-aims-to-make-pandemic-pay-permanent-for-essential-care-workers The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the spotlight on the difficult and dangerous working conditions that health care workers face. From feel-good television ads to the regular banging of pots and pans, health care workers are rightly being thanked.

The provincial and federal governments have partnered to provide pandemic bonuses to essential frontline workers. USW District 3 has launched a campaign to make these wage increases permanent and apply to all workers involved in providing care. Their work does not stop being essential when the pandemic ends, and their pay increases should not end either.

Many Steelworkers in this sector are women and/or workers of color who are fighting entrenched pay inequity and undervaluing of their work because of who they are.

“No matter where our members work, they care about their fellow Steelworkers providing the health care our communities depend on. Governments are learning what we’ve always known; our members are essential every day,” said District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

This is why the district has launched the “Essential Everyday” campaign website to make these pay increases permanent and apply to all workers involved in providing care, from health care aides to support staff who keep facilities clean and operating.

Anyone in Canada who visits the website can use it to send a letter of support for the campaign to their federal Member of Parliament. If you live in District 3, the letter will also go to your provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly.

The union is also asking that essential health care members visit the website to fill out a survey and submit personal stories about working in this industry during the pandemic.

District 3 continues to offer targeted health and safety training to health care members, including the right to refuse unsafe work. “Our first priority is safety,” added Hunt. “Essential doesn’t mean sacrificial. This campaign is a vehicle to hear from our frontline members and ensure their employers are treating them with the respect they deserve.”

Please visit the campaign page and send a letter here.

Help Stop Human Rights Abuses by Canadian Companies Abroad – Sign the Petition! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/help-stop-human-rights-abuses-by-canadian-companies-abroad-sign-the-petition Mon, 10 Aug 2020 13:51:49 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/help-stop-human-rights-abuses-by-canadian-companies-abroad-sign-the-petition CNCA progress bar of petitions signed plus an image of protesters on Parliament HillThe Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) was appointed by the federal government over a year ago. However, the CORE lacks the power to compel testimony or the submission of documents and it cannot effectively investigate allegations of human rights abuse linked to Canadian companies’ global operations and supply chains.

Now is the time to act to ensure Canadian companies respect human rights and the environment! The Steelworkers Humanity Fund invites you to sign the e-petition to EMPOWER the CORE and ENACT mandatory human rights due diligence.

Help us reach 4,000 signatures before Sept. 1.

Sign the e-petition

#power2investigate #CAN4mHRDD

Jean Gérin-Lajoie (1928-2020): A Pioneeer of Quebec’s Labour Movement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/jean-gerin-lajoie-1928-2020-a-pioneeer-of-quebecs-labour-movement Sun, 26 Jul 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/jean-gerin-lajoie-1928-2020-a-pioneeer-of-quebecs-labour-movement Jean Gérin-Lajoie, one of the great pioneers of Quebec trade unionism and the first Quebec director of the United Steelworkers to be elected by members, passed away in July at age 92.

Gérin-Lajoie served as Steelworkers Quebec Director from 1965 to 1981 and Quebec Federation of Labour Vice-President from 1959 to 1981. His union activism began as a 19-year-old worker at Montreal Cottons in Valleyfield, Que. As well as ascending to the highest echelons of Quebec’s labour movement, he was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and earned a PhD in economics from McGill University.

“He greatly helped to build and bring structure to our union, the labour movement and the world of work as a whole. He has left us an immense legacy,” said USW Quebec Director Dominic Lemieux.

“The Steelworkers union is extremely privileged to have been able to count on a man of such great skill and humanity over so many years,” Lemieux said.

For more than two decades, Gérin-Lajoie was the labour movement’s lead representative on a high-profile council that advised the Quebec government on labour relations policy. He contributed to legislation introduced by five different governments, including Quebec’s first meaningful labour laws, the creation of its labour board, implementation of a minimum wage law, anti-discrimination legislation, occupational health and safety legislation and labour reforms which facilitated union certification and produced anti-scab legislation.

He published two books on Quebec Steelworkers history and in 1985 he was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec, one of only four trade unionists to receive the province’s highest honour.

Memo Sent to Ontario School Boards Urges Five-Day 'Face-to-Face' Learning Come Fall https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/memo-sent-to-ontario-school-boards-urges-five-day-face-to-face-learning-come-fall Fri, 17 Jul 2020 13:33:21 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/memo-sent-to-ontario-school-boards-urges-five-day-face-to-face-learning-come-fall Ontario families juggling child care, education, work can't be 'new reality,' expert warns

Schools across the province are being directed to steer away from online learning and maximize children's time in the classroom this fall, according to a memo sent to Ontario's directors of education.

Read the full article

Health Care Member Audra Nixon Combines Compassion and Knowledge to Serve Others https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/health-care-member-audra-nixon-combines-compassion-and-knowledge-to-serve-others Mon, 13 Jul 2020 16:05:11 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/health-care-member-audra-nixon-combines-compassion-and-knowledge-to-serve-others Audra Nixon’s desire to care for the elderly began on her paper route when she was around seven years old. Turning off the flat, rural county road into Maxville Manor and walking into the long-term care facility to drop off the day’s newspaper, young Audra felt like she was home.

“I walked into that place and just knew that’s where I wanted to be,” Audra said.

She has now been working as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at the manor for 33 years. To her, the best part of this work is the hands-on care with seniors and the intimate bonds that come with it.

“You learn so much,” Audra said. “The wisdom that comes from an elderly person is astounding. It’s all really heart-warming.”

Along with her full-time work as a caregiver, Audra also serves at unit chair of Local 9211 in Maxville, Ontario, and as an executor for the local. When she took over the position as a fairly green leader, she knew her goal was to learn as much as possible about unions and government in order to better support her members.

“I wanted to get more folks involved and make it so they’re not just paying dues,” she said. “It opened everything up a lot more.”

Audra also serves as president of the District 6 Health Care Workers Council, and is a member of the USW International Health Care Workers Council. Through these platforms, she and her fellow activists in Ontario have been able to start a vital conversation around the need to support and uplift the PSW industry.

Six years ago, Audra and others started to see a big change in health care changes, particularly with wage cuts and freezes. This is when she became involved with the district council and started working to create a safe space for fellow PSWs to come together and talk about the challenges they faced.

Now, amidst a pandemic that has severely impacted long-term care facilities, that open communication and advocacy is needed more than ever. Less than two months ago, on May 15, members of Local 9211 protested outside the manor against cuts to care hours that leave vulnerable residents at even greater risk.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” Audra said. “We’re lucky to have enough PPE and our facility isn’t one that has had an outbreak, but we’re already short-staffed because a lot of people don’t want to come to work during this pandemic.”

Even before the pandemic hit Canada, PSWs had been sounding the alarm on their many vulnerabilities for several years. Then, as the virus took hold, conditions in facilities got so bad that the military had to be deployed to five hard-hit centers to help provide medical care.

A May 14 report based on the observations of Canadian Armed Forces personnel also detailed insufficient staff training and inadequate protocols to stop the spread of the virus, poor sanitation, resident neglect, worker burnout, and more. Today, nursing homes account for 81 percent of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

“We’ve been saying we’re in crisis for years,” Audra said. “It wasn’t until residents started passing away that anyone paid attention.”

Audra and a USW staff representative also met with members of their parliamentary government just last month to talk about the many issues facing the industry. Among the demands they made at the meeting were better wages, safer resident-to-worker ratios, and improved inspections of facilities.

“We know what’s needed,” she said. “The government just needs to help us implement it.”

Audra said that being in a union is what allows her and others to use their collective voice to advocate for themselves and others.

“It’s about power and fairness. The more people we have backing us, the stronger our voice gets,” Audra said. “The USW has been very good standing up for these issues and fighting back.”

When she isn’t caring for her residents and standing up for her fellow workers, Audra enjoys spending time with her family and her dog. “My peace has always been my husband and my home,” she said.