In 1872 the first Labour Day demonstration was held in Toronto but it was not until 1894 that London, Ontario celebrated Canada’s first nationally recognized Labour Day.
On the first Monday in September parades through Ontario’s towns still celebrate workers’ contributions and labour union solidarity. It is also an occasion to campaign for workers’ rights and better working conditions.
In their 2005 book, “Workers’ Festival“, labour historians Craig Heron and Steve Penfold explore the history of the day and its political and social context.
A long tradition of collaboration
Injured workers – even the non-unionized – have long enjoyed support from organized labour who, in the early 1900s, pushed the government for fair workers’ compensation. The memory of Fred Bancroft (Trade and Labour Congress of Canada), who represented workers’ interests so forcefully during the Meredith Commission hearings and helped shaped the legislation, lives on in today’s struggle to improve the workers’ compensation system.
Injured workers and advocates work closely on law reform, education and public rallies with labour organizations and their worker representatives: including regional labour and district councils, Unifor, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), United Steelworks of Canada (USW), United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), Ontario Nurses Association (ONA).