Canada’s unions are marking International Domestic Workers’ Day by calling on the federal government to recognize the critical role of domestic workers in Canada and protect their rights.
Canada’s unions have long called for the federal government to ratify and implement ILO Convention 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers (C-189) and ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment (C-190). Both global conventions prioritize labour rights and standards, with C-189 establishing rights and protections specifically for domestic workers. C-190 recognizes the right of all people to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.
“Domestic workers are crucial in supporting Canadian families, households and the broader economy. From cleaning, to cooking, to caring for children, older people and people with disabilities, the work of domestic workers is critical and life-sustaining,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “By signing and ratifying ILO C-189 and C-190, Canada has the opportunity to recognize the true value of domestic workers and start to put in place the infrastructure needed to protect their rights.”
Despite playing an important role in Canada’s care economy, domestic workers continue to be denied decent work and are often subjected to exploitation, poor working conditions and limited pathways to permanent immigration status. In addition, COVID-19 heavily impacted domestic workers in Canada and globally. In Canada, domestic workers experienced reduced hours, job losses, unpaid wages and increased precarity and struggled to access social protections, services or programs such as employment insurance.
UN Women estimates that one in every 25 women workers around the world are employed in domestic work, with one in six workers being migrants. In Canada, racialized and migrant women make up the majority of domestic workers, providing essential labour that is part of Canada’s care economy, supporting families and households across the country.
It’s time for our government to ensure decent and safe work for domestic workers across the country. It’s time for Canada to ratify ILO C-189 and C-190.