Unionization, Democracy & Equality


In Canada, there has been a long-term trend of declining unionization rates, from 38% in 1981 to 30% in 2012. The biggest drop can be seen in the private sector, from 30% in the 1970s to 16.4% in 2012 as well as in men, from roughly 42% in 1981 to 28% in 2012.

On the other hand, the unionization rate for women has held steady from 1981 – 2012 at around 31% and similarly so for the public sector at around 70%. Unionization among young workers (aged 15-24) has also increased in recent years.

For some, the declining unionization rate across Canada is a troublesome trend that depicts a move away from democracy and increased income inequality. Many researchers suggest there is a direct link between high unionization rates and lower income inequality, resulting in increased levels of inclusion and community participation.

Check out: “Long term trends in unionization” by Diane Galarneau and Taho Sohn, Statistics Canada (2014)

Check out: “Some Thoughts on Canadian Unionization Rates” by Professor Doorey, Law of Work Blog (2013)

Check out: “Unions and Democracy” by Christopher Schenk, CCPA (2014):

Check out: “Unions Matter: How the Ability of Labour Unions to Reduce Income Inequality and Influence Public Policy has been affected by Regressive Labour Laws” by Canadian Foundation of Labour Rights (2013)