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Seniors Vote mobilizes for change at the ballot box

Canada has a growing and aging population. In 2014 there were more than 6 million Canadians aged 65 or older, representing 15.6 per cent of the population. By 2030, seniors will number more than 9 million and make up about 25 per cent of the population. At a time when Canada needs a national strategy and leadership on health and aging, we find the government moving away from funding our cherished universal health-care system, which was based solely on need and not how much money one had. At one time the envy of the world, Canada's health-care system is slowly being eroded and privatized.

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The life of a union man: Tales from Down East

Photo: Dennis Jarvis/flickr

Though I was born in Toronto, I have spent much of my life in the Maritimes and have retired to Prince Edward Island. Now when Canadians elsewhere think of Prince Edward Island, they most likely think of Anne of Green Gables, potatoes, or the meeting of the Fathers of Confederation. But behind those bucolic images resided working women and men. I have always been a union man and have worked with a variety of labour organizations from my IBEW local on Prince Edward Island to the Canadian Labour Congress.

Contract negotiations

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Labour organizing 101: Hunting for union memberships

As a full-time staff representative for the Canadian Auto Workers union (now Unifor), my work involved negotiating, presenting arbitrations, appearing before various labour tribunals, working with local union leadership, and instructing a variety of education programs. But organizing is the one task that provided the most bizarre and sometimes funny situations in my 30 years as a staff representative.

In the late '80s, I was trying to organize the workers at the Rio Algom tin mine 25 miles outside of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. It was a cold fall and we had early snow. The gate to the mine was about a mile from the main road and I decided that it would be much easier to pass out organizing leaflets at the mine gate rather than hoping workers would see me and stop.

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Celebrating the victories and struggles of Black workers in Canada

Photo: flickr/Rebel Sage
This February, the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC), alongside the Canadian labour movement, marks Black History Month.

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Marking the victories and struggles of Black workers in Canada

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The Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC), alongside the Canadian labour movement, celebrates February 2015 as Black History Month.

Black History Month began in the United States as "Negro History Week" in February 1926 through the work of African-American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. 

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Putting child care back on the public agenda

Photo: flickr/David Robert Bliwas
All across Canada, parents are struggling to find safe, affordable, quality child care in which their children can thrive. That's where ChildCare2020 comes in.

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ChildCare2020: Let's put child care back on the public agenda

It begins with a simple premise: Child care is a human right.

It's not a luxury, not a privilege. It's certainly not an issue to be overlooked. All across Canada, parents are struggling to find safe, affordable, quality child care in which their children can thrive.

That's where ChildCare2020 comes in.

From November 13-15, in Winnipeg, ChildCare2020 will bring together a diverse cross-section of the early childhood education and childcare sector along with policy experts, researchers, parents, workers, community leaders and activists from communities across the country to discuss what child care could be in the year 2020. It is the first national conference on childcare policy in a decade.

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We need to talk about pensions with upcoming generations

How many times have we talked to our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours about the issue of pensions, only to get the deer in the headlights look? I believe that it is one of the duties of those around the age of retirement to reach out to younger people about the importance of preparing for retirement. We know that Stephen Harper is doing all he can to make the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) unsustainable and to make people work longer to receive the benefits. 

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Lest we forget: Workers' rights since the First World War

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Though there had been world conflicts between empires in earlier centuries, this one was different both in the extent of the carnage and in the fact that it marked the end of the European empires that participated. It also saw nationalistic impulses trump international worker solidarity. Some workers in the trenches on both sides refused to go along, but their "reward" was to be shot by their own side rather than by the enemy.

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Then and now: Shining a light on labour struggles

On travels this summer, I went to Rochester, NY, which was the home of the Eastman Kodak operation. I visited the Eastman Museum which featured a large exhibit of the photographs of Lewis Hine. While you may not immediately recognize his name, you likely have seen his iconic photographs, especially those dealing with child labour. Life magazine deemed his photograph of the Pennsylvanian breaker boys to be one of the "100 photographs that changed the world." His photographs of young girls working in cotton mills still have the power to move your heart a century later.

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