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Spring 2016 Newsletter – Equity Unit Annual Review

Equity Conferences

Francophone Conference

The Provincial Francophone Committee hosted OPSEU’s first-ever Francophone Conference in Ottawa from June 12-14, 2015. The theme was “I Make a Difference in French” with a goal to equip OPSEU members with the tools to assert their rights as francophones in their workplaces, communities and within their union. It also served as an opportunity to highlight the union’s many achievements in providing French-language services.

Activities and discussions revolved around the importance of solidarity and the impact of strength in numbers. By highlighting the need for greater French-language services throughout, it provided a sense of pride in francophone heritage, language and identity.

For more information: http://opseu.org/event/opseu-francophone-conference

International Youth Day Conference

Invest in Your Future, OPSEU’s 8th Annual International Youth Day Conference (IYD) was hosted by the Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC) from August 12-14, 2015 in Toronto. The committee welcomed over 120 enthusiastic young workers and as a direct result of increasing demand, expanded the conference to a two-and-a-half day event.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas stressed the importance of getting involved. He recognized that the people in the room represented the future of the labour movement – and that one of them could be an eventual president of OPSEU. As a result, workshops were designed to build and strengthen the leadership potential of young workers.

This year also marked the launch of OPSEU’s Don’t Vote Campaign, in which the PYC took on a vital leadership role. It was a non-partisan campaign aimed at engaging youth in the political process.

For more information:


Joint Leadership Day

Hosted by the Equity Chairs, the 14th Annual Joint Leadership Day brought together leaders from all walks of the working lives that OPSEU represents. The day was designed to help integrate equity issues into all aspects of OPSEU's work.

The theme, "Measuring Equity – Are We There Yet?" evaluated the effectiveness of tools like the Social Mapping Project (SMP) to harness the strength of the union’s diversity. The participants examined, through presentations, poetry and game playing, how unspoken rules and the way things are done can create unintentional disparity. OPSEU has more than 130,000 members, and that number is growing. Its strength is not only in numbers, but also in the wide diversity within the membership. Union solidarity is more important than ever. We must stand strong in all of our diversity.

At the close of the event, participants re-committed themselves to the guiding principles and the goals of the Social Mapping Project. This is to ensure that the union will best represent and celebrate the diversity that is at the core of its strength.

For more information: http://opseu.org/news/14th-annual-joint-leadership-day-measuring-equity-are-we-there-yet

Women’s Conference

The Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) of OPSEU hosted the 2015 Women’s Conference, The F Word: Reclaiming Feminism. It took place from November 6-8 at the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. The conference was an opportunity to talk about engaging more women in activism, especially in an age of backlash against feminism.

Thought-provoking speakers were invited to share their expertise in the feminist movement. Participants were also treated to three special presentations: a live performance of Life on the Line: Women Strike at Eaton’s 1984-5; a screening of the film She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry; and a slam poetry performance by Truth Is.

They were all complemented by skills-based workshops which focused on building solidarity and becoming allied in the following areas: women in activism; fighting pay inequity and poverty; and challenging the stigma surrounding sex workers.

For more information: http://opseu.org/event/2015-provincial-womens-conference

Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy (HDPP)

In December, the Equity Unit completed a review of the Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy (HDPP) and Procedural Manual. It was done in consultation with the Equity Chairs, an Executive Board Liaison as well as a sub-committee of HDPP Advisors and Investigators. The new Policy now includes language as it pertains to personal harassment to reflect the 2015 Constitutional Amendment.

The Policy now reflects the following improvements:

  • A simplified process and forms.
  • Increased ability to focus on quick mediation to resolve complaints.
  • Clearer timelines, reducing unnecessary administrative steps in process.
  • Increasing accountability and transparency around recommendations and implementation.

You can find the now policy and forms at: http://opseu.org/information/equity-policies

LBED Employment Equity

The LBED Equity Committee meets quarterly with the employer to evaluate LCBO policies and procedures as they impact equity and to propose solutions to make workplace equity a reality throughout the LCBO. The Equity Committee welcomes two new members this year: Adam Ly (Provincial Youth Committee) and Paige Malcolm (Aboriginal Circle). The Committee has proposed substantial revisions to the LCBO Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures so that it will ensure procedural fairness and compliance with human rights legislation. In addition, the Committee is monitoring the employer`s systematic review of all employee accommodations to ensure fairness. The Committee also helps organize the annual Province-Wide LCBO Diversity Day in September. The September 2015 event included an opening smudge by members of the OPSEU Aboriginal Circle.

2016 Dates Worth Noting

February – Black History Month
March 8 – International Women’s Day
March 20 – Journée internationale de la francophonie
April 13 – International Day of Pink
April 14-16 – Annual OPSEU Convention
April 28 – National Day of Mourning
May – Asian Heritage Month
June 21 – National Aboriginal Day
August 12 – International Youth Day
December 3 – International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 10 – Human Rights Day

Equity Unit 2016 Events at a Glance

The Gathering (Toronto) – February 5
HDPP Advisor/Investigator Training (Toronto) – March 7-11
Young Workers Conference (Toronto) – August 12-14
Joint Leadership Day (Mississauga) – September 20
Indigenous Conference (Cornwall) – September 30-October 2
Human Rights Conference (Toronto) – November 18-20

Statement of Respect

Harassment or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at OPSEU functions.

Whenever OPSEU members gather, we welcome all peoples of the world. We will not accept any unwelcoming words, actions or behaviours against our union members.

We accord respect to all persons, regardless of age, political affiliation, including people of colour, women, men, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, members of ethno-racial groups, people with disabilities, gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender/transsexual people, and gender diverse persons, francophones and all persons whose first language is not English.

In our diversity we will build solidarity as union members.

Equity Unit Staff

Sophie Tomé (backfilling for Jayme Giles)

Fridmar Facunda (Bilingual)
Tim Vining
Libby Zeleke
Margaret Smoke (Corrections)

Twila Marston (Acting)

Download a copy of this newsletter: Equitably Speaking Spring 2016.pdf