Canada’s unions welcome new declaration to address gender-based violence

February 3, 2021

Canada’s unions welcome the joint declaration made by Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for the Status of Women for a Canada free of gender-based violence.

The declaration reinforces the right to live free from violence and the need for concrete efforts to address and prevent all forms of gender-based violence. It also sets out a common vision, principles, goals and pillars for a National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence, “which will be an evolving approach to guide our actions in preventing and addressing gender-based violence”. Canada’s unions and our allies in women’s movements have long called for a National Action Plan.

“Over half of women in Canada will experience violence or harassment in their lifetimes,” said CLC Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for survivors to access support. For those who face racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and other oppressions, barriers to services sometimes feel insurmountable.”

A National Action Plan would better coordinate efforts across all levels of government to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors to receive timely and culturally appropriate access to services. If done right, it will also complement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice.

“Any effort to tackle gender-based violence must also address workplace violence and harassment,” added Clarke Walker. “Every pillar of the National Action Plan should include recommendations to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work that are guided by the International Labour Organization Convention C-190.”

In order for the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence to be truly effective, Canada must ratify ILO Convention C-190 – the first-ever global treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work.

C-190 was adopted by the ILO in 2019. It sets out clear, gender-responsive policies for governments and employers to implement in order to work towards the elimination of all forms of violence and harassment at work. It becomes legally binding once a country ratifies it. Canada requires the agreement of all provinces and territories in order to ratify the convention.

Women in Canada are #DoneWaiting for an end to gender-based violence. A national crisis requires bold, national action. We welcome this important first step from Ministers across the country – and look forward to finally moving forward, together.

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