October 29th, 2023 marks the first annual International Day of Care and Support, a United Nations day of observance to recognize the important contributions of workers in the care economy. Unions in Canada and around the world lobbied for this important observance through the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.
Care work encompasses direct, relational care activities, such as parenting or caring for an elderly relative, but also formal jobs where workers help care for other members of their communities. Many CUPE members are care workers, including personal care workers, attendants, nurses, early childhood educators, and many more. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, childcare centres, schools, and social services.
The majority of care work in Canada, both paid and unpaid, is performed by women, largely from racialized and marginalized communities. Many care work jobs pay low wages and are underpaid compared to roles with similar levels of responsibility and qualification in male-dominated sectors. This is why CUPE is pushing for pay equity legislation across Canada and more investment in public care services. We are also organizing care workers in healthcare, childcare, education, and social services for better wages and working conditions.
On the International Day of Care, labour organisations are calling for a Global Day of Action to support care work. As part of this call to action, the Canadian Labour Congress has launched the Show We Care campaign. The campaign includes the following demands to the Canadian Federal government:
Make meaningful investments in public care services.
Invest in greater quantity and quality of paid care work.
Develop and implement a national recruitment and retention strategy for care work.