Equity & Anti-Racism

Fairness matters. Building inclusive unions that embrace those common values is one of the most important tasks we have. 

The Labour Council represents 220,000 women and men who work in every sector of the economy, and has a long history of challenging discrimination and bigotry.


Working together to end systemic racism and create a just Canada for all Unions in Canada have a proud history of standing up for justice and dignity. Since our unions were first formed, working people have sought a collective voice in the workplace and in society. We have found many ways to achieve better wages and working conditions and, most importantly, respect for what we do and who we are.

CLICK THE LINK: Yes, It Matters Campaign! 


The core belief of unions is in solidarity. We want every one of our members to feel they belong, to appreciate the gains that unions have made for working people, and to have a sense of our common purpose. Over 30 unions have signed onto the Charter. Has yours? Download a printable version of the Charter.


Labour Council co-hosts an annual IDERD event in partnership with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Labour Community Services. The 2021 program, Making Good Trouble*: How we dismantle systemic racism - in workplaces, in schools, in healthcare, in society addresses the fierce urgency of now, and inviting us all to “make good trouble” to achieve real and lasting change. View the video below.

John Cartwright, Neethan Shan, and Faduma Mohamed, Executive Directors of the host organizations, co-authored an op-ed in The Star entitled "How we approach the task of dismantling systemic racism."



The award recognizes the dedication and contributions that demonstrate outstanding commitment and leadership to persons that fought and propagate the rights of labour and human rights. The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has established this prestigious award in 2004 to commemorate the courage, dedication and outstanding service of Bromley L. Armstrong to the labour and human rights movement in Canada.  Find out more at www.labourcommunityservices.ca/bromleygala



IWOC 2021

Starting in 2003, every year the Toronto & York Region Labour Council hosts an annual Indigenous and Workers of Colour (IWOC) Conference. It provides a space for sharing, learning and strategizing how to deepen the equity agenda of the Labour Council and its affiliates. Keynote speakers have come from across Canada and the United States to inspire participants, while workshops are designed to challenge the labour movement to dismantle systemic racism in workplaces, public institutions, our own unions and across society. This year's conference, Rising Above the Storm: Creating the Future We Want was an incredible success, featuring a keynote address by Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director of Toronto Community Benefits Network, and responses to the tragic events in Kamloops and London, Ontario. The conference also featured a number of incredible thought-provoking workshops to choose from.

Watch the entire IWOC 2021 Conference on our YouTube channel right here.



On February 24th, Toronto’s construction industry launched the Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities. acknowledging that systemic racism is a reality, committing to addressing it and affirming that the industry needs to be safe and welcoming for everyone who helps build our city.

Last summer Torontonians were sickened by the placing of nooses on a number of construction job sites. Unions and contractors immediately issue statements condemning these acts of hate, and workplace meetings made it clear there would be zero tolerance for racist acts. Labour Council worked with affiliated construction unions to create a plan that would be “actionable and intentional” – with concrete steps to develop industry-wide anti-racism training and ongoing programs that build a culture of safety and inclusion for all.


The Community Benefits Movement

Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) play an important role in ensuring that, when large property developments take place in low-income communities, the investment is leveraged to create good union jobs, local hiring, youth training, and affordable housing.

CLICK THE LINK: Community Benefits

By working together, we can nurture inclusive workplaces and strengthen our shared commitment to our union’s shared values of equality, respect, justice and dignity for all.

"Historically, labour movements have played fundamental roles in organizing against racist forces. In the late 1980s until the early 2000s, we faced the rise of the white supremacist neo-Nazi group called the Heritage Front.

Back then, the labour movement provided anti-hate advocates with resources and space in which to rally against these dark forces. Under the leadership of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, the movement offered help when it was most needed. Groups like the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and Anti-Racist Action, continued working with labour until the Heritage Front fell apart in 2005.

Today, we see a troubling resurgence in far-right activity. The speed and efficiency at which white supremacist groups can organize and propagandize on the internet far exceeds the methods of the past. Previously, far-right groups relied solely on pamphleteering, or telephone 'hate lines,' to get vile messages out. It’s a whole different space now; one the federal government is reportedly intending to better regulate — as it must."

Full op-ed in The Toronto Star





Read our Editorial in The Toronto Star:

The core belief of unions is in solidarity. We want every one of our members to feel they belong, to appreciate the gains that unions have made for working people, and to have a sense of our common purpose. Download a printable version of the Charter.






Yes It Matters

Working together to end systemic racism and create a just Canada for all.

Equity Guide

This workshop outline is meant to be accompanied by the A Leader’s Guide to Strengthen Unions – Moving Beyond Diversity Towards inclusion and Equity.

Challenging Racism + Discrimination

The Labour Movement has a tireless record over many decades of fighting against racism and discrimination in all its forms.

Submission to Anti-Racism Directorate

All equity work points to the need to understand intersectionality of oppression.

The Refugees Next Door

A publication by the Refugee Project that encourages us to challenge some of the negative narratives around refugees, offering an alternate story that refugees are a part of an contribute to our social fabric.

Working Towards Reconciliation

Read "Wet'suwet'en: A wake-up call for Canada"
by Pamela Palmater, published in NOW Magazine Feb. 27, 2020

Wet’suwet’en_blockade.jpgThe Labour Council supports efforts to move toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, in particular the Calls to Action laid out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report. Above all, the TRC's final report encourages us to think of reconciliation as a relationship that requires ongoing attention and respect.

Racial equity is bound up with Canada's reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; and further, that a positive relationship with Indigenous peoples is crucial to achieving climate justice. There are concerns with how federal and provincial governments make decisions about new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Teck Frontier oilsands project. Read Labour Council's letter to government MPs urging them to reject Teck and Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan's response to Teck withdrawing its application for Frontier.

Land law in Canada is much more complicated and uncertain than most non-Indigenous Canadians appreciate. The following articles have laid out legal arguments supporting the Wet'suwet'en legal position:



Fighting Islamophobia


Labour Council works with affiliates and community partners, including the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, to build a culture of inclusion and anti-racism in our society. Our senior organizer Mohammed Hashim has dedicated his personal and professional life to ending anti-Islamic hate, and Labour Council is proud to support his ongoing work in this area. Learn more about how Mohammed has made a contribution behind the scenes in these interviews:


Breaking Barriers - Linking Struggles

The video documents the tremendous achievements of labour activists around equity and anti-racism work in Toronto over the last three decades.

United in Fighting Against Anything

After local Dresden businesses refused to comply with the Fair Accommodation Practices Act the same year it was enacted, Ruth Malloy, Bromley Armstrong, and other activists from the Toronto-based Joint Labour Committee for Human Rights conducted sit-ins in Dresden restaurants, testing the owners' non-compliance with the law, and then using that information to urge Premier Frost to eventually press charges against the restaurant owners.

A Small Corner Where Justice is Happening

Terri Monture from the Canadian Media Guild speaks about her involvement in the labour movement.

Asian Heritage: Agents of Change

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council's Secret Service investigates 5 Asian Canadian Agents of Change.


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