Balancing work and family life has become a critical issue for many CUPE members. Across the country, about 70 per cent of Canadian women with young children are in the labour force. More than 15 per cent of families with children are lead by single parents, the vast majority of them women.

Balancing work and family can be doubly challenging for members of equality seeking groups. Two-thirds of full-time employed parents with children report they are not satisfied with the balance between their home and family life.

Nearly 18 per cent of Canada’s population has a disability, yet there is almost no accommodation of their work and family needs.

Families that don’t fit the formal definition – father, mother and children – are often forced to find time for family obligations by using vacation days or sick leave. Too often, they are left shortchanged because their relationships are not recognized.

To ensure fairness and equity for all, locals need to define “family” in the collective agreement as broadly as possible and, in particular, the definition of “spouse” and “parent” to ensure coverage for all members.

Holidays that are not part of the North American Christian tradition are often not included in collective agreements. This means that some workers do not have their family’s celebration days acknowledged in their workplace. They must celebrate without holidays or ask for vacation time.

Aboriginal members have hunting and fishing seasons that are important to their way of life and traditions. Many Aboriginal members also prefer their own traditional methods to deal with illness. Collective agreement language can provide them with the opportunity to practice these traditions.