Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020

October 4 2020 – October 10 2020

In crisis? Please call 1-833-456-4566 toll free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit


Fast Facts about Mental Illness

Who is affected?

  • Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
  • About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

How common is it?

  • By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
  • Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
  • The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

What causes it?

  • A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
  • Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
  • Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

Health care unions welcome significantly improved COVID-19 protections for 400,000 health care workers

TORONTO – Today the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued Directive #5, which provides clear guidance that N-95 or superior protection masks, face shields and other equipment are to be provided to health care staff working on the front line in long-term care facilities or hospitals dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, among other improvements.

“The updated standards in Directive #5 are the culmination of many hours of frank and open collaboration with the Ministry of Health. I’d like to sincerely thank the government for adopting these improved precautionary measures that put worker safety first. It is imperative that management and operators discharge the necessary PPE to meet their health and safety obligations in the workplace,” said Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare.

The enhanced standards directs that if a health care worker in a facility in outbreak comes in contact with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a patient or resident where 2 metre distance cannot be assured, that health care worker can determine if a fit-tested N-95 respirator or approved equivalent or better protection is needed and if so must receive it.

“Our priority is the health and well-being of the women and men working in Ontario’s health care system and the people that they care for. The management of Ontario’s hospitals and long-term care facilities must meet these very basic requirements. We believe that these changes will significantly reduce the infection risk for health care workers and for the most vulnerable,” said Michael Hurley, President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

“By working together the participating unions have managed to achieve terms on a directive that in all honesty could save lives,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The new Directive #5 is the culmination of frank and open collaboration with representatives of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the government. It is an example of what we can accomplish when government decision makers and unions work together on shared goals.”

“By protecting all nurses and health-care workers, no matter where that care is delivered, we protect all Ontarians. Working together with Ontario’s healthcare unions, ONA, OPSEU, CUPE-OCHU, SEIU and Unifor, and the provincial government, we have collectively improved Directive#5 so that now it helps achieve the proper health and safety protections and reinforces the responsibility of employers to ensure that protection is readily accessible. This benefits all Ontarians as we fight back during this pandemic,” said Vicki McKenna, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

“These improvements to Directive #5 will make our hospitals and long-term care homes significantly safer for our health care workers and for all Ontarians. I commend the government for listening to healthcare unions and putting these improvements in place. Our front-line health care workers need our support as we battle this pandemic and we must continue to work together to ensure their protection as we fight against this virus,” said Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU) President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

OCHU-CUPE, SEIU and Unifor launched a Judicial Review to strike down the previous Directive The improved standards mean that the application for a Judicial Review of Directive #5 will be withdrawn

Ontario COVID Emergency Wage Enhancement must include all front-line health care workers

October 1, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor appreciates the recognition of personal support workers in the temporary wage enhancement but demands the Ontario government not exclude all other frontline workers.

“Personal support workers absolutely deserve this recognition, but so do the other health care workers who show up every single day,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “It takes a team of workers like cleaners who stop the spread of disease, dietary workers who ensure proper nutrition, rehabilitation workers who keep people mobile, nurses and countless others who contribute to the care and wellbeing of patients and residents. Considering that many of these workers have had to self-isolate for weeks to protect their families, unable to see their own children, and today they are being told they are ineligible for the temporary wage enhancement.”

The Ontario Government will immediately implement a $3.00 wage increases for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Long Term Care and Community Care sector  which could extend till March 2021. PSWs in hospitals will receive a $2.00 per hour increase.

All other essential frontline health care workers have been arbitrarily excluded, as have personal support workers in the retirement home sector.

“Today’s announcement is problematic in many ways, and shows just how out of touch Doug Ford is with the health care sector,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor National President and lead Unifor health care negotiator. “We stressed to the government that PSWs work as part of a team and excluding some members of the  team is insulting and divisive, as is excluding retirement home workers who have seen devastating and tragic COVID-19 outbreaks.”

Unifor will continue to meet and lobby the government to rethink this policy and fill these eligibility gaps to ensure that no front-line health care workers are left out from the COVID Emergency Wage benefit and pay improvements become permanent.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at

“Company Town” documentary about Oshawa GM airs Saturday

“Company Town, an independent documentary about the fight to save the General Motors assembly plant and thousands of jobs, will air on CBC television Saturday October 10, 2020 at 8 p.m. eastern time.

“When film makers requested behind the scenes access to the biggest fight our union has ever undertaken, we agreed that this story needed to be told,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Do we like how this story ended? Not one bit.”

On Nov. 26, 2018, General Motors made the surprise announcement to “unallocate” product at its Oshawa, Ontario plant, and move Canadian jobs to Mexico.

The film “features heart-wrenching personal stories” of Unifor members and “takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as the clock ticks down to the closure of the plant,” according to the film’s website.

It highlights one of three television commercials the union produced in a multi-media advertising buy that reached 22 million Canadians.

Film makers were in Oshawa on February. 14, 2019 when Grammy award winning artist Sting and the cast of his musical The Last Ship performed in solidarity with Unifor members.

In May 2019, Unifor held a joint news conference with GM to announce the footprint would be maintained in Oshawa, saving hundreds of jobs. The plant transitioned to parts manufacturing operations, producing service parts such as doors, hoods, fenders, tailgates, and deck lids, and more recently medical masks for Health Canada to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Unifor believes there are new business opportunities for GM to expand work to include past-model parts and production for other automotive industry customers and will never give up pushing for full auto assembly again in Oshawa.

Company Town airs at 8 p.m. on Oct 10, 2020 on CBC Television.

Unifor applauds federal and provincial support for electric vehicle production

October 8, 2020

TORONTO—The federal and provincial announcement today of a total of $590 million in support of battery electric vehicle (BEV) production in Oakville is welcome news to thousands of Unifor members working at Ford Motor Company.

“Today is an historic day. Today is about a vision…It’s about saying to young people that we have a plan for jobs not just for today, but more importantly for tomorrow,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, speaking at a news conference at Ford’s Connectivity and Innovation Centre in Ottawa, streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page.

“This level of co-operation and support for the auto industry’s transition to zero emission vehicles shows that as a nation we are taking a global leadership role in the development and manufacturing of battery electric vehicles and I commend the Prime Minister and Premier Ford for the leadership they have shown today,” said Dias.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada must be a global leader in zero emission manufacturing, and announced these funding commitments to help retool the Oakville Assembly Complex to produce BEVs and build charging stations across the country.

“This is a big day for the Canadian auto sector. Today’s announcement clearly shows how much we can accomplish when we collaborate and innovate,” said Dias, who was also relieved to learn that the federal and Ontario government commit to working with the union and other automakers to support and attract future “large scale” investments in zero-emissions technologies.

In Oakville, Premier Doug Ford told autoworkers “we will always have your back,” as he announced

Ontario’s $295 million investment to secure thousands of jobs across Ford’s production workforce in Canada. Unifor representatives accompanied the premier at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex during the virtual news conference with the Prime Minister.

On September 28, 2020 Unifor members ratified a new collective agreement that includes $1.8 billion to retool the Oakville plant and $148 million for Windsor powertrain facilities. Ford has committed to source new 6.XL engines to the Windsor Engine Plant and sole source 5.0L engine assembly and current component machining to the Essex Engine plant, along with any derivatives.

Unifor represents 6,300 workers at Ford Motor Company, 9,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and 4,100 at General Motors. A digital media kit be found on this website and a downloadable version of today’s news conference is available to media upon request.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.