CEIU commemorates this day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, on December 10th, we reflect on the state of human rights in Canada and around the world. The United Nations states “COVID-19 is a test of societies, of governments, of communities and of individuals. Now is the time for solidarity and cooperation to tackle the virus, and to mitigate the effects, often unintended, of measures designed to halt the spread of the virus.”
As a union, we continue to embrace this principle by advancing awareness and activism within CEIU around equity issues faced by First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, members with disabilities, LGBTQ2+ communities, racially visible members, and women.
Women in recent times have experienced and faced major challenges in their lives. The Covid-19 pandemic created situations like quarantines, school closures and other movement restrictions to curb the spread. This created issues for employees such as obtaining access to other paid leave (699); thus, contributing to the increased level of stress, anxiety, and discrimination.
Racially-visible members experienced their share of systemic discrimination, which is the leading cause of chronic and toxic stress, and shapes social and economic factors that put some people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk for COVID-19. As well, racially visible members from the Asian community may be experiencing greater anxiety and/or stress because of the rise in anti-Asian racism in connection to the pandemic.
Furthermore, the United Nations states that the pandemic poses a grave health threat to Indigenous people around the world. The First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities already experience poor access to healthcare, significantly higher rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases, lack of access to essential services, sanitation, and other key preventive measures.
Societal inequities have been magnified and the LGBTQ2+ community is faced with increased difficulties and barriers. Black, Indigenous, racialized, and/or persons living with disabilities from the LGBTQ2+ community are confronted with compounded inequities.
The impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities, as per a Statistics Canada survey, indicates that over one-third of the participants with health conditions or disabilities, report experiencing a job loss or reduced hours during the pandemic. Individuals with disabilities interacting with multiple care providers/supports have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to increased exposure. Even before COVID-19, people living with disabilities already faced barriers in many forms, often daily.
When human rights are not upheld or understood, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, and oppression continue to arise. Every person has the right to not be discriminated against in their community and their workplace.
International Human Rights Day is a call to stand up for human rights for all.
Human rights are universal.
CEIU National Vice President-Human Rights &
Chair of CEIU National Human Rights/Race Relations Committee