Canada’s unions mark Pink Shirt Day by calling for an end to workplace violence and harassment

February 24, 2021

Canada’s unions are marking Pink Shirt Day by calling on the federal government to ratify ILO Convention 190, a global convention to end all violence and harassment at work, including gender-based violence.

Although Canada adopted Convention 190 in 2019, the federal government has yet to ratify the convention, which would turn the global treaty into law.

Pink Shirt Day is recognized across Canada and around the world as a day to recommit ourselves to challenging bullying and harassment in our schools, communities, and in our workplaces. This year, the focus of Pink Shirt Day is about working together and treating everyone with dignity and respect as we all navigate the unprecedented realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no place for bullying and harassment in our unions, workplaces, or in our communities. This includes homophobic and transphobic bullying,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President. “COVID-19 has forced many workplaces to become virtual, exacerbating existing concerns around online violence and harassment.”

A recent study by Statistics Canada on the Experiences of Discrimination during the COVID-19 Pandemic found that three in ten respondents reported harassment in the workplace, while almost a third of all respondents reported experiences of online harassment.

In addition, the same study found that 68% of gender diverse respondents reported experiences of harassment online, while half of all Black and South Asian respondents experienced discrimination in public spaces, such as retail, restaurants and banks.

Workers experiencing harassment – including transphobic and homophobic bullying – whether virtual or in person, may feel increased pressure not to report due to the economic insecurities felt throughout this pandemic.

“It’s past time for our government to take a stance against violence and harassment at work,” said Rousseau. “Canada must join other countries around the world by ratifying this convention and solidifying our government’s commitment to the right to a workplace free of violence and harassment for all.”

Canada’s unions have long organized and fought for anti-harassment policies and awareness initiatives at work that ensure safer workplaces for everyone. Even in the midst of a pandemic, unions are leading the way in advocating for every worker’s right to safety in the workplace. This includes the recent launch of a national survey on harassment and work in Canada and the creation of a new Workers in Transition handbook.

Pink Shirt Day started as an initiative in a small town Nova Scotia school in 2007, to address homophobia and transphobia. Since then, it has grown into a global celebration of all identities and includes participants from all over the globe. Learn more about the origins of Pink Shirt Day here.

To show your virtual support, upload a photo of yourself, your workplace or your community with the hashtags #PinkShirtDay and #LiftEachOtherUp. Be sure to include a message on anti-bullying to your social media platforms.

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