Unifor Statement on International Human Rights Day

Colourful fist in the air, surrounded by silhouettes in watercolour style.


This is the 75th year since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came to life. Given the state of the world today, these rights and the leadership and inspiration behind them have never been more needed.

Today, we re-issue the call for a ceasefire in Gaza. We are bearing witness to a level of atrocity that will be felt for generations to come and significantly hamper any efforts towards fostering peace between Israel and Palestine. The violence must end, and humanitarian support and the necessities of life must be restored.

At home, we see precarity rising, with housing, with food prices, and with wages that don’t provide for basic needs.

Amidst all of these very real challenges, Unifor can be a beacon of hope for better.  The union’s Social Justice Fund (SJF) continues to sponsor projects around the world to improve the lives of workers and their families, to strengthen democracy, contribute to poverty reduction and promote equitable development.

A special SJF 10th anniversary legacy grant was announced at an event following Ontario Regional Council, where six organizations received a total of $600,000 to help support programs and initiatives that would have a long-term impact on various regions and marginalized communities across Canada and around the world. The selected organizations included Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam Canada, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), CODE, Tears to Hope Society, and Romero House, supporting programs in areas such as humanitarian aid, education, workers’ rights, gender equity, health care, truth and reconciliation, and refugee support.

Across Canada, the union has supported initiatives like The Humanity Project which provides shelter and support for those in the Moncton, N.B. area experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction, raised funds to support the healing of families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and to build affordable housing with the Imagine Build project in partnership with Oneida Nation of the Thames, defended the LGBTQ2S+ community against rising hate, and advocated for fair and equitable workplaces and work conditions for all members.
This work is important and we remain committed to the challenge of doing it.

The work we do as union activists to support the building of a human rights culture in which every worker feels valued and included is equally important.

To support the growth of this work, the Unifor will bring together 75 Equity Committee representatives from across the country. Together, they will undertake training, engage in strategic planning, and create a blueprint for growing human rights and equity within every level of the union. Local unions will be challenged to engage in meaningful action to support equity-deserving members. In addition, there will be a new award for the local union that best demonstrates commitment to human rights and equity.

The National Executive Board of the Union has agreed to the creation of a brand-new Local Union Equity Fund to provide financial support to projects that build more equity and inclusion within local unions. In 2024, $250,000 will be available to support a range of projects. The first deadline for applications for projects in the coming year is this Friday, December 15.