Growth, women’s rights, and First Nations equality discussed at UFCW National Council meeting


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Toronto – April 21, 2016 – UFCW Canada national and local union leaders recently gathered at the biannual UFCW National Council meeting held in Toronto.The meeting primarily focused on expanding the union's growth efforts and strengthening our relationships with women’s rights and First Nations advocacy groups.

The National Council members also reviewed UFCW Canada's education and training, political action, and communications initiatives. As Canada’s most progressive union, the leadership further discussed how members, staff, and officers are working to make UFCW Canada the most diverse, tolerant, and inclusive union in the country.

At the meeting, National Council members welcomed Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, to discuss the Caring Society’s recent victory at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on the issue of First Nations child welfare.

In its January 2016 ruling, the tribunal found that the federal government discriminated against First Nations children by depriving them of equal funding for medical and mental health services. During her presentation, Dr. Blackstock stressed that the ruling must be followed by action from the Trudeau government in adequately funding health and education services for First Nations children, after decades of neglect.

In addition, the UFCW leaders heard from Diana O’Reggio of the Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF), who spoke about LEAF’s history and work in advancing gender equality in Canada and its engagement with women and the labour movement over the last three decades. 

Following the presentation, Sister O’Reggio and UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema signed a historic mutual support agreement between UFCW Canada and LEAF, committing both organizations to advance equality, diversity, education, and social and economic justice in order to bring about real change in women’s lives.

Finally, the local and national union leaders examined the work of UFCW Canada’s Women’s Advisory Committee in combating domestic violence, organizing women and equity-seeking groups, and negotiating work-family provisions in UFCW Canada collective agreements.

"To secure and promote fairness, safety, diversity, and dignity for every UFCW member, our union will continue to explore cutting-edge strategies for advancing labour and human rights in this country, and the National Council meetings are a key part of realizing that mission,” said Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada's National President.

As the union's national executive board, the UFCW Canada National Council meets twice a year to assess the state of the union, decide on national strategies for strengthening the membership's bargaining power, and develop plans for helping more workers join the union. The next National Council meeting will be held in November 2016.