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Priority Areas

Priority Areas and Program Guidelines

The mandate of the SJF, as approved by the Social Justice Fund Board of Directors at its first meeting in October 2003, is to support initiatives in five priority areas:

  • Humanitarian assistance in Canada and around the world
  • Anti-poverty initiatives in Canada
  • International labour development
  • Worker education in Canada and around the world
  • Worker-to-worker exchanges

1. Humanitarian Assistance in Canada and around the World

The SJF will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to communities affected by disasters here in Canada, particularly when PSAC members form part of the affected communities or are involved in disaster relief initiatives.

At the international level, immediate humanitarian relief will be channelled through experienced international agencies that have a proven capacity for delivery of emergency aid, while long-term reconstruction will prioritize aid to counterparts in devastated areas in order to strengthen the role of Unions and community in long-term social and economic rehabilitation.

  • Humanitarian assistance must address the underlying issues of poverty and inequality.
  • Reconstruction and rehabilitation must involve the affected community in decision-making and support environmental sustainability and food sovereignty.
  • Prioritize reconstruction of essential services using Public-Public Partnerships with the participation of related public sector workers and affected communities.
  • Reconstruction of housing and infrastructure must respect the decent work agenda, including fair wages and working conditions.

2. Anti-poverty Initiatives in Canada

The SJF will support anti-poverty initiatives in Canada that:

  • Include PSAC membership involvement at the community level.
  • Promote transformation and/or changes in the social, economic and political realities that create poverty.
  • Further social justice through actions aimed at social, human and economic development.
  • Raise awareness of the root causes of poverty and social injustice.
  • Address the feminization of poverty.
  • Promote Quality Public Services as a necessary step to overcoming poverty.
  • Support advocacy for progressive public policy and social change.
  • Address Aboriginal, Inuit, and Métis poverty, and empower First Nations communities.

3. International Labour Development

International labour development involves projects that are focused on advancing the rights of workers and their unions in the developing world.  In order to bring mutual benefits to workers in the North and South, the SJF will develop projects involving counterparts that share common objectives and principles - such as the defence of public services, democratic governance, transparency and accountability to the membership, and the defence of gender and equity rights.  This sharing of common principles will enable the SJF and its counterparts to work together more effectively and to identify key areas of mutual support.

Labour development programs will address institutional strengthening and capacity development of sister unions in the South. Our international development projects will also work to address: 

  • The right to Decent Work
  • Institutional Strengthening & Capacity Building
  • Human & Labour Rights
  • Gender & Equity Rights
  • Defence of Quality Public Services
  • Develop and defend public policy on Agriculture and the Right to Food
  • Climate Change & Environment
  • Union responses to HIV/AIDS

4. Worker Education

Education supported by the SJF will focus on globalization and social justice, its impacts, and what actions can be taken.  More specifically, SJF education initiatives will have as objectives:

  • To link workplace and community issues within an international context
  • Campaigns to mobilize membership action around current and emerging issues
  • To increase the commitment  of  union members to undertake collective action in the workplace
  • To build solidarity with sister organizations in the global south
  • To advance the rights of marginalized people threatened by the global agenda

In addition to the two-day Globalization and Social Justice course, and short education modules intended for the broader PSAC, the SJF will work with PSAC Education to identify union courses where including an international and social justice perspective would contribute to membership development and empowerment..  In addition, the SJF will encourage PSAC member participation in CLC and Labour Federation courses on international development and social justice.

5. Worker-to-Worker Exchanges

Worker to worker exchanges are a powerful educational tool that:

  • Develop solidarity between workers in the North and South
  • Strengthen the work of the SJF on labour rights and equity
  • Develop a stronger union base against privatization and corporate globalization;
  • Link the aspirations of specific sectors of workers in common struggles 

Worker-to-worker exchanges funded by the SJF include:

  • Visits to counterparts in the South, including fact-finding missions, project visits, participation in Union courses, Convention or an educational activity related to globalization; members who participate in such a visit should have participated in the Social Justice Fund’s educational module, a community activity, and have the support of their Local, Component or Regional Structure
  • Southern workers may be invited to Canada to participate in a union Convention; a specific course on bargaining, organizing, or a women’s or an equity conference, tour, or another union event
  • Participation by workers in North/South exchanges such as the Canadian and Colombian Frontline Tours organized by the PSAC, CUPW, CUPE, NUPGE and the CLC in the Spring of 2004, 2006 and 2008.