Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

March 19, 2005 09:00 ET

Workers look for equal opportunity from new anti-racism plan

Unions say it's time to end discrimination against newest working citizens Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA--(CCNMatthews - March 19, 2005) - For the past three years, the Canadian Labour Congress marked March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, by calling for the federal government to do three things - develop a national anti-racism framework, adopt a national plan of action, and establish an anti-racism national council.

"The announcement of new money for a national anti-racism action plan in the 2005 budget speech was the first of what we hope will be more steps toward dealing with the racism that denies full citizenship to too many of Canada's working people. The gap between announcing a national strategy and having a national strategy that works is something we are eager to help the government close," says Hassan Yussuff, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress.

According to Canadian Labour Congress research, racism is very much alive in Canada and it is damaging the lives of millions. Unemployment among Aboriginal peoples is triple the rate for the rest of the Canadian workforce. Recent immigrants earn only two-thirds the annual wages and salaries of everyone else and are less likely to qualify for Employment Insurance because the rules are stacked against them.

Yussuff says that speeding up the process of integrating new Canadians and landed immigrants into our labour force by giving them equal access to job opportunities, recognizing the professional and training credentials of our newest working citizens and taking what amounts to systemic discrimination out of the Employment Insurance Program should be urgent priorities. Making 360 hours of work the universal qualification for EI benefits everywhere in Canada, fixing benefits at 60% of earnings from the best 12 weeks of work in the previous year would go a long way to making things right.

"Canada's unions have a lot of experience working with employers and workers to get racism and discrimination out of their workplaces. We've made a real difference in people's lives and we want to make sure that the promise made in the last budget is kept in a way that continues to make a difference where people live, work and study," says Yussuff.

The Canadian Labour Congress' statement to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination contains a list of other measures that governments of all levels, employers and working Canadians can take to end racism and discrimination. Topping that list (for the fourth year in a row) is the development of a national anti-racism framework and the establishment of a national anti-racism council.

The statement can be found at

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils. Web site: IN: ECONOMY, EDUCATION, LABOUR, POLITICS, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Jean Wolff, Director, Communications, Canadian Labour Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-526-7431
    Secondary Phone: 613-878-6040