International Youth Day

International Youth Day

“Youth is wasted on the young,” or so it is said.

Seriously though, young people in Canada and abroad face a future that is filled with challenges and opportunities. The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organizations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

This year’s day is about achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.
Celebrations at the United Nations headquarters and around the world will recognize the importance of youth efforts, collaboration and participation in the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Events to celebrate International Youth Day 2016 will take place all over the world.

Happy International Youth Day!

By: Mark Klein


We’re in it together

Today, June 27th is Canadian Multiculturalism Day. On this day, Canadians acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we are a nation of communities from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Multiculturalism as state policy was officially adopted by Pierre Trudeau’s government during the 1970s and 1980s. The federal government has endorsed multiculturalism as an ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.

In November 2002, the Government of Canada designated June 27th of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. Canada prides itself on the rich, ethnically diverse landscape that represents this nation. Rather than becoming a cultural melting pot, we honour and encourage our cultural mosaic.

Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country.

Canada currently has one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. Canada also resettles over one in ten of the world’s refugees. In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country. Approximately 41% of Canadians are of either the first or second-generation Canada includes at least thirty-four distinct ethnic groups, and 6.2% of the population self identify as a visible minority.

Multiculturalism day is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and our commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect and to appreciate the contributions of the various multicultural groups and communities to Canadian society.

Just walking down the streets of downtown Toronto reminds us of the cultural richness of this great country and reminds us that we’re all in it together.


Serving the Public

Serving People

On December 20, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 23 of each year as United Nations Public Service Day (resolution 57/277). It encouraged member states to organize special events on that day to highlight the contribution of public service in the development process.

This day was created to:

  • celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community;
  • highlight the contribution of public service in the development process;
  • recognize the work of public servants;
  • and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

Here in Canada, the Public Service has expanded over the years as populations have grown. The number of services provided to Canadians has increased with the introduction of new offices throughout the country. The civil service has also been reduced several times, often due to restraint programs -, such as the reductions of the mid 1990s led by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and most recently under the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012.

The public sector is highly unionized in Canada. Approximately 80% of those public-sector employees eligible for collective bargaining are covered by collective agreements, compared with only 25% in the private sector. Most federal government employees belong to the 150 000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada, and have had bargaining rights since passage of the 1967 Public Service Staff Relations.

There probably aren’t many days that the average Canadian doesn’t access services that are made possible by our dedicated Public Service. Let’s all take the time to be thankful for the thousands of Public Service workers in our midst. Happy Public Service day!

By: Mark Klein

Take pride in Pride Week


Pride Week is a 10-day event held during the end of June each year. It is a celebration of the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) community. It started out as a small protest march in the early 1970s. Today, the pride march is one of the largest organized gay pride events in the world that draws in nearly one million people every year.

For the most part, the Canadian labour movement has been at the forefront of the struggle for LGBTIQ rights. Canada’s unions have fought for inclusive language in collective agreements in diverse workplaces across the country to promote equality and protect and empower workers. And some of the very first legislation in Canada around same-sex benefits was enacted, thanks in part to organized labour’s support and advocacy. But the engagement of unions in LGBTIQ history is uneven. While some unions took up the demands of LGBTIQ workers, others ignored the call for solidarity and kept a long distance from organizing for safety, dignity and pride of their LGBTIQ members. And while some unions have ‘caught up’ in recent years, by devoting resources and energy to LGBTIQ issues, still others haven’t.

In May 2008, Pride at Work Canada was formed by a group of dedicated individuals with a vision – to improve the climate of inclusiveness for LGBTIQ employees in the workplace. Its vision is for Canada to be a nation where LGBTIQ individuals can achieve their full potential at work. Its mandate is to promote inclusion, encouraging organizations to support authenticity at a corporate level and create workplaces where LGBTIQ employees will be able to be themselves and, ultimately, to be more productive.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the rainbow Pride flag on Parliament Hill to mark the beginning of Pride season. This marked the first time a Pride flag has ever been officially raised on Parliament Hill, an important sign of the progress the LGBTIQ community has made in this country. This followed the introduction of Bill C-16 which will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.

The goal is to create a world, without homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression so that every person can achieve their full potential, free from discrimination and bias.

Happy Pride Week!

By: Mark Klein

Remembering Everything Nightingale Fought For

Modern day nursing is going through a renaissance. Being one of the oldest professions in healthcare comes with many challenges, and being adaptable seems to be a constant factor when being connected to this career choice.

Nursing Day is celebrated every year on May 12 in many countries across the world. This day is in honour of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who founded the modern nursing profession in the 1800s.

Nightingale was born into an upper class British family in 1820. She made her first impressive mark in the field of healthcare during the Crimean War, which took place from 1853-1856 in the Black Sea region near Russia and Turkey. She led a team of 38 women who nursed and cared for wounded British soldiers in the conflict. Her team found the medical facilities weren’t caring for the wounded soldiers adequately. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected and mass infections were common. Thanks to Nightingale’s efforts, she helped reduce the death rate at the site from 42 to 2 percent.

After the war she came back to Great Britain and founded the Nightingale Training School in 1860 to train and educate women to become nurses. She also wrote a book called Notes on Nursing, which served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other new nursing schools.

This book is considered a classic introduction to nursing. It was published at a time when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. The book did a lot to improve care in an era when hospitals were riddled with infection and many people viewed nursing as a lower-class occupation.

Not only was Nightingale a nursing pioneer, she was also a social reformer. She wanted to improve healthcare for all sections of British society regardless of their wealth or income, advocated for starvation relief in India, and expanded the role of women in the workforce.

Florence Nightingale did a lot of work expanding the scope of practice for nurses to provide better care for patients. Some of the issues she faced are similar to what nurses’ experience today. Nurses have to lobby their managers, employers and the government to expand their scope of practice to provide superior patient care in our healthcare facilities.

In today’s nursing environments, often nurses are assigned to provide care to ungrateful, violent and verbally abusive individuals. Nurses are scheduled to work long hours, with little or no breaks, and are constantly on their feet for most of their shifts to deal with patients with a variety of ailments.

Canada’s constantly growing aging population has the government searching for new ways to attract more nurses to the field and to provide alternatives for people who need help. Nursing has a proud history but clearly it isn’t attracting students to his healthcare profession since admission into nursing programs in Canada are in a downward spiral. Nursing can be a thankless job, but it can also be one of the most rewarding professions for those whom care and have a passion for giving and positive change.

Let’s remember everything Nightingale fought for and continue to push for the change that is needed to advance the future for nursing across Canada and globally. We will all be healthier for it!

By: Andrew Miller

Celebrating Mother’s Day on May 8

seiu healthcare mothers day

Sunday, May 8 is Mother’s Day. This is the day to thank your mother for all the hard work, dedication, love, and commitment she has given you throughout your life to make you the person you are today.

SEIU Healthcare represents tens of thousands of women who work hard helping patients, clients and residents. Many of them are also strong mothers who spend their lives caring for their children.

Mother’s Day is a big holiday. It’s not just celebrated in Canada and the United States. It’s celebrated in over 180 countries across the world in every continent.

The national effort to create Mother’s Day began in the early 1900s by a woman named Anna Jarvis. Anna’s mother was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. Anna wanted to honour her mother by setting aside a day to honour all mothers. She believed they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

By 1911 all US states began to observe the day. In 1914, President Woodrow made Mother’s Day a National Holiday to honor mothers. Mother’s Day was adopted by other countries, and it is now celebrated all over the world.

By: Greg Dwulit

We’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Every year we focus on all the work that needs to be done to attain women’s equality – and that’s still a long road. But sometimes let’s reflect on some of the important gains we have made since the 1960s.

In 1961 32% of women aged 22-44 had a job. Today, that number is more than 82%.

In 1969 only 33% of the workforce was female. Today, that number is over 48% – nearly half the workforce.

In 1976 women earned 41 cents compared to every dollar a man earned. While today, that number is only 68.5 cents, it still reflects a 60% increase.

Attitudes have shifted and the opinion that a women’s place is in the home has dropped dramatically since the 1960s.

Federal and provincial governments throughout the 1970s and 80s passed numerous laws forbidding workplace discrimination against women.

The number of women enrolled in college or university has increased as well.  In the 1960s only 10% of women earned a college or university degree. Today, the majority of students in post-secondary education are women.

Attitudes towards violence against women has evolved considerably. In the past, spousal abuse was sometimes considered a “domestic” issue – an internal affair that didn’t warrant police attention. Before the 1980s there was no law forbidding a man from sexually assaulting his wife. Today, romantic partners can be charged and convicted for spousal abuse.

While the quest for equality has advanced this cause significantly, the battle has not yet been won, but I believe it will be within my lifetime.