On December 6, CUPE joins with people across Canada to mark the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, where 14 women were singled out and murdered because of their gender. One of those women, Maryse Laganière, was a CUPE member who worked at the school.

Sadly, in the 28 years since the massacre, we see that gender-based discrimination and violence remains all-too widespread in our workplaces and our communities. By using hashtags such as #MeToo and #YesAllWomen, women are taking to online and offline spaces to reveal just how prevalent gender-based violence actually is.

Further, we recognize that violence has particular impacts on poor, Indigenous, racialized, LGBTTQI women, and women with disabilities. Too often, violence against such women isn’t treated as seriously. CUPE steadfastly insists that the experiences of these women be validated. The violence must end.

That is why CUPE welcomes the revival of the Status of Women Canada, the Court Challenges Program and the federal government’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence. Still, we will continue to hold the government accountable and ensure that the demands of women’s rights organizations and feminists are reflected in legislative, policy and economic changes.

With victories such as paid leave for domestic violence survivors in Manitoba and Ontario, we carry this optimism forward as we continue to lobby the federal government to follow suit and implement similar and improved paid leave protection.

This year, we recognize that many CUPE members, particularly in the healthcare sector, continue to experience sexual and gender-based violence in the workplace. At our last Convention, members took a clear position against all forms of gender-based violence and demanded that locals have the tools they need to end violence in the workplace. Members also mandated that CUPE National create resources designed to address sexual violence at work. By lobbying for changes to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that survivors of domestic violence are able to access paid leave, CUPE continues to prove its commitment to fighting all forms of gender-based violence.

On this day, we join with millions of people across Canada, in unions and organizations of all kinds, to encourage our members to take action.

Union members can take action:

  • Lobby Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, to demand that amendments to the Canada Labour Code include paid leave for women facing domestic violence.
  • Review the new study, Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff on the experiences of health care staff in Ontario.
  • Learn more about how you can advance protections at work for survivors of domestic violence by checking out CUPE’s guide and the Canadian Labour Congress resources on domestic violence at work.
  • Support organizations like the Native Women’s Association of Canada and take action in your community to support the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
  • Organize or attend a December 6 event in your workplace or neighbourhood.

Many CUPE members and staff across the country work daily to end gender-based violence and support affected workers and families. On December 6, CUPE applauds your activism, and we re-dedicate ourselves to ending violence against women.