Insights Header image
Insights Header image
Insights Header image

Canadian Unionization Rates Continuing to Fall

June 2015 Employment and Labour Bulletin 2 minute read

The reshaping of Canada’s workforce and the related drop in union density in the private sector is confirmed by numbers recently released by Statistics Canada.

Today a union member is slightly more likely to be a female, and working in an office, school or hospital. By contrast, factory workers, miners and other blue collar trades have seen their union memberships continue to fall over the past three decades.

The decline in Canada’s unionization rate has been noted since Statistics Canada began tracking it in 1981. The rate has fallen from 37.6% of employees being unionized in 1981 to 28.8% in 2014.

The trends differ, however, based on gender. Over the span from 1981 to 2014, the union density for male workers dropped from 41% to 27%. For female workers over the same period, the rate remained relatively stable, varying between 30% and 32%.

There is also a notable decline in the unionization rate among young workers. While this decline was also present among younger female workers, the trend is most pronounced among younger males. And the relatively constant overall rate for female workers is based on an overall increase in he unionization rate for older women.

One factor contributing to the decline in unionization of younger men is the employment shift away from industries and occupations with high union density (such as construction and manufacturing) and towards those with lower rates (such as retail and professional services). The higher rates for older women are in part attributable to their concentration in industries with high union density, such as health care, education, and the public service.

These numbers reflect trends which are likely to continue. The overall unionization rate within Canada’s private sector (15.2% in 2014) has been declining for over 30 years. This will continue to be partially offset by high public sector union density (71.3% in 2014). When taken together, the image of a “typical” union member will continue to evolve.

by George Waggott

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2015

Insights (5 Posts)View More

Featured Insight

Ready for Change? Bill C-59 Rewrites the Competition Playbook

Bill C-59 has been enacted, introducing significant changes to all aspects of Canada’s competition law regime.

Read More
Jun 21, 2024
Featured Insight

BC Court of Appeal Improves Predictability for Employers Relying on Termination Provisions

In a recent decision, the BCCA provides the clarity sought by employers and employees alike for what is needed for an enforceable termination provision.

Read More
Jun 19, 2024
Featured Insight

Corporate Restructuring Meets Intellectual Property: Quebec Superior Court Overturns Disclaimer Notice and Issues the First Canadian Interpretation of Usage Rights under the CCAA

In the context of a restructuring, the debtor's right to resiliate a contract under s. 32 of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act is far from absolute.

Read More
Jun 19, 2024
Featured Insight

Court Upholds Shareholder-Employee Loan to Acquire a Residence

Discussion of a recent Court decision that a loan to an owner-manager to refinance his home was not a "shareholder benefit".

Read More
Jun 19, 2024
Featured Insight

Time to Get Tough! CARR Provides Guidance for CDOR Tough Legacy Contracts

CARR released guidance with respect to tough legacy contracts in Canada that don't have workable CDOR fallback language; who this applies to; why it was issued.

Read More
Jun 18, 2024