December 10 is International Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each December 10th, it’s important for us to reflect on the important gains we have made in advancing human rights in our province that flow directly from this declaration.  It’s also critical to recognize that we’re still a long way from true equality for all.

The principals enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights ­– a milestone document that proclaimed the absolute rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as human beings regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status – are as relevant today as they were nearly 70 years ago.

While so many milestones have been achieved over the decades, we find ourselves today living in frightening times where human rights are increasingly under attack. With the recent resurgence of neo-Nazism and fascism, emboldened by the U.S presidential election, we must stand up for our own rights and the rights of others that are intended to protect us all.

We’re so proud that CUPE members do this every day in our workplaces and communities across Ontario.  For example, it’s thanks to the hard work of activists across the province, many of whom are CUPE members, that we’ve seen the creation of an Anti-Racism Directorate in Ontario, and at the federal level, the government is finally moving forward with an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

While it is important to recognize the significant gains made, we must remember that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve equality, justice, human rights and dignity for all.

In Ontario, racial profiling by police is still alive through carding practices that are a clear human rights violation. Many Indigenous communities in our province lack clean water and other basic services that other communities take for granted. Women still earn only $0.72 for every dollar earned by a man and the gender wage gap is widening. LGBTQ2 people still face bullying and discrimination for their gender expression and sexual orientation.  And people with disabilities continue to face huge barriers to simple participation that many others also take for granted.

CUPE Ontario is proud to be a leader in the fight for human rights. We recognize that workers’ rights and equality rights are one and the same. We have a very diverse membership in our union and we are very proud to reflect that on our Provincial Executive Board in many ways including through our six designated equality representatives. With the active support of our over 260,000 members, we will continue to include the fight for equality and human rights in all the work we do.

The 2017 Racial Justice & Human Rights Conference is taking place December 11-14, 2017 and is about Building Bridges & Building Power. Click here to register for this important event.

Elections at this conference include: Aboriginal Council, Workers with Disabilities, Pink Triangle, Racial Justice, Young Workers and International Solidarity Committees.