What We Do

February 19, 2015

We are the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent 3.3 million workers.

For more than 50 years, we have provided research and policy leadership on issues that impact the everyday lives of all working people such as wages, workplace health and safety, pensions and retirement security, social and economic justice and equality, access to public healthcare and childcare

We advocate in support of our policy goals in the courts and in Parliament, and through public education and political mobilization. Internationally, the CLC is the voice of Canadian workers at the United Nations through the International Labour Organization (the ILO).

Many of the things first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today – such as minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment.

Canadian labour has played a big role in making Canada a better place to work and live. Canada’s working class became Canada’s middle class as improved wages raised the standard of living. In addition to fair pay, workers and their unions have secured benefits from employers and governments, which has meant greater income security and a better quality of life. 

Unions are a positive force for democratic social change.

Here’s how we work to improve Canada for everyone.

Research and analysis

Our economists and researchers are nationally recognized for their skills and expertise, and produce in-depth analysis on issues such as working conditions, health and safety, wages and benefits, healthcare, pensions and retirement security, immigration, training, employment insurance and social and economic equality. 


We advocate politically for policies and programs that improve the lives of all Canadians, such as the creation of better and more secure jobs, better public pension plans and retirement security, a stronger public health care system and affordable and accessible child care.

We advocate in Parliament and in the courts to advance legislation that improves the day-to-day lives of all Canadians, such as workplace safety and collective bargaining rights and employment equity.

Community organizing

Working through our labour councils and federations of labour we organize community events such as town hall meetings and rallies to listen to the challenges facing hard working Canadians and to promote positive social change. We also work through our labour councils to ensure workers interests are a priority for municipal councils. 

Partnering with the United Way

We also partner with organizations on the ground in your communities, such as the United Way in campaigns that raise money for local community and social services and with parents working for improved child care services.

Anti-racism and human rights

We work with Aboriginal workers to strengthen their voices and presence in the Canadian labour movement. We advance women’s equality. We promote the full participation of people with disabilities in the union movement and their communities. We fight racism and promote the human rights and equality rights of racialized workers. We also work to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Our education programs feature state-of-the-art courses in workplace health and safety, fighting racism and discrimination, media and public relations, economics, campaign management, human rights and global solidarity, as well as workplace representation and union steward training.

International solidarity

We also work with unions and workers around the world to advance workers’ rights, promote ethical trade, end exploitation of workers, stop violence against trade unionists, and strengthen the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

Our structure

The CLC is a democratic organization, driven from the ground up by the needs and aspirations of Canadian workers.

Every three years, thousands of delegates from across the country meet at a weeklong convention – one of the largest regular gatherings of working people in the world. These rank-and-file union members debate issues and adopt policies that set the CLC’s agenda. They also elect the CLC leadership by secret ballot: the President, the Secretary-Treasurer and two Executive Vice-Presidents. 

Between conventions, the CLC is governed by its Canadian Council, an executive board composed of the Officers, the leaders of every union affiliated to the CLC and the leaders of the provincial and territorial federations of labour. To ensure the broadest possible representation, additional seats on the Canadian Council are filled by women, workers of colour, youth, Aboriginal workers, people with disabilities, retirees and LGBT workers.