Celebrate Labour Day 2017 on September 4!

August 1, 2017

ONA-Labour-DaySince its inception, ONA has been a leader on human rights issues that affect not only our members, but all members of our society. In 2015, ONA launched a human rights and equity initiative to champion human rights causes even further and to highlight major human rights and equity observances including Labour Day.

Labour Day is a statutory holiday that takes place on the first Monday in September. While many Canadians may simply think of Labour Day as the unofficial end to the summer, it is actually a day of great significance for the labour movement and workers' rights.

In 1872, at a time when unions were still illegal in Canada, a demonstration was held in support of striking workers from the Toronto Typographical Union who were fighting for a shorter work week. What began as a group of 2,000 workers marching through the city streets became a parade of 10,000, standing together at Queen's Park in solidarity. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sided with the workers and eventually passed the Trade Union Act which repealed outdated laws and decriminalized unions.

The events in Toronto showed the power of workers to influence public opinion and shape policy through solidarity. Parades supporting and celebrating workers' rights became annual traditions across Canada, and in 1894 the Sir John Thompson government passed a law making Labour Day an official statutory day in recognition of the contribution workers made to the labour movement and workers' rights.

Today we recognize the efforts of our forbearers in the labour movement as individuals and organizations hold events across Canada to honour those who have worked and fought to ensure better rights, wages and working conditions for all workers, and to speak out about ongoing labour issues and injustices.

ONA members have taken a stand on several major labour issues in the health-care sector including workplace violence, health and safety, safe staffing and pay equity. We are currently fighting for nurses to be included in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) legislation. Nurses witness and experience many traumatizing events in the course of their working lives. They -- like other front-line workers such as firefighters, police and correctional officers -- can suffer from PTSD but they are not included in PTSD presumptive legislation that can help them get the help and support they need.

Click here to send a message asking our elected officials to include nurses in the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumptive legislation.

With their passion and dedication to the health, wellness, safety, and continuing education of their patients and clients, ONA members play a vital role in strengthening their communities and the labour movement.


We encourage ONA members, family, and friends to join us and other labour leaders in celebrating this Labour Day. Now is the time to start preparing to attend a Labour Day event or parade in your area.

Because Labour Day parades and events allow us to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights before large public audiences, ONA will coordinate and fund registration fees for Locals/Bargaining Units that plan to participate, and where there are more than 40 member participants, an appropriate float/vehicle. Also remember that locals can apply for political action monies under policy 26.11 to Vicki McKenna before the event. Contact your bargaining unit president or local coordinator for more information.

If you are looking for an event in your community, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) posts an extensive list of Labour Day events by region across Canada, including several in Ontario. Click here to visit the CLC website and see the most up-to-date version of their events calendar.

If you or your Local will be participating in Labour Day activities in your community let us know by emailing webmaster@ona.org and we will post the details here for other ONA members. We also invite you to submit any photos from your event - be sure to include the names and Local number with your submission.

See below for details about 2017 Labour Day events: The event listing will be updated as information becomes available.

Stratford: Local 021 (Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance) will be part of the Stratford & District Labour Day Picnic on Monday Sept 4 from 12-3pm at the Upper Queens Park in Stratford ON.

Toronto: The Toronto and York Labour Day Parade takes place on Monday, September 4 starting at 9 a.m. Marchers can meet on University Ave (east side), south of Dundas (Section 7A.) Contact your Local president or Region 3 VP Andy Summers (asummers@ona.org) for details.


ONA has prepared English and French versions of our Labour Day poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster, a generic poster (PDF) and a poster with a blank space at the bottom (Word) which Locals can customize with their own message and/or event details. Click on the document name below and download the PDF or Word document of your choosing.

ONA Resources

Click here to learn about how union activism and nursing professionalism go hand in hand.

Are you interested in ONA has developed several tools and resources that can help you increase awareness and promote positive change. Click here to learn more or email cgrintake@ona.org for help executing public awareness and advocacy campaigns.

ONA members with a passion for union activism are coming together to learn how to build relationships and strong teams, motivate supporters to take action, and become confident in speaking out on labour issues. Check out this video from ONA's inaugural Activist Camp. Questions about the Leadership program? Email ldrcon@ona.org.

Visit ONA’s Health & Safety webpage for the latest health and safety news and important resources and contacts for nurses on the job.

Watch ONA's "Why We're Here" video and learn more about the role the union plays in the lives of its members.

Learn more about ONA's Human Rights and Equity team and their ongoing work here.

More Resources

Visit the Canada's History website for an in depth look at the origins of Labour Day in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada. Their website features the latest labour news, information about ongoing campaigns, and research current labour issues.

Visit the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions website for the latest news and research on issues affecting Canadian nurses.