• To be a visible national voice for teachers
  • To act as a strong advocate for public education
  • To bring public attention to the need for all members of school communities to work, learn and live in a safe and healthy environment
  • To focus public and professional attention on necessary conditions for teaching and learning
  • To advocate for social justice issues

On May 7, 2009, four of Canada’s largest labour organizations, representing more than 800,000 workers, launched a campaign to press the Canadian government to ratify three international conventions governing forced labour, child labour, and the right to collective bargaining. In launching the campaign, “ Canada’s Shameful Secret”, the leaders of the four organizations expressed deep frustration and disappointment with Canada’s refusal to ratify three core conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency:

  • Convention No. 29 – Forced Labour : This Convention was passed by the ILO in 1930 and it prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labour. Canada is one of only nine countries that refuse to ratify it.
  • Convention No. 138 – Minimum Age : This Convention was passed by the ILO in 1973 and it sets the minimum age for work. Canada is one of only 51 countries that refuse to ratify it.
  • Convention No. 98 – Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining : This Convention was passed by the ILO in 1949 and provides that all workers have the right to organize unions and to bargain collectively. Canada is one of only 29 countries that refuse to ratify it.

The four labour organizations involved in the campaign are:

  • Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF)
  • National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)
  • Canadian Police Association (CPA)
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW)

Canada was an active participant when the Conventions were originally drafted, joining with other nations around the world in enthusiastically endorsing and signing them at the ILO. Yet successive Canadian governments have refused to ratify them or to explain their failure to do so. As a result, Canada’s influence and credibility on the world stage is suffering. Failure to ratify the Conventions has meant that protections for workers in Canada are being weakened.

The right to organize a union and bargain collectively is well established as a fundamental human right, yet Canada’s refusal to ratify Convention 98 means m any Canadian workers are currently deprived of basic rights, leaving them at the mercy of their employers with no ability to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation encourages the federal government to take immediate steps to work with provincial and territorial counterparts to develop a concrete plan and timetable for Canada’s ratification of the three core ILO Conventions referenced above.