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

(Class) Actions Have Consequences

A party who initiates a class action in BC, arguing that BC is the appropriate jurisdiction, will later have difficulty transferring the proceeding to Ontario.

Read More
Jul 23, 2024
Featured Insight

New Criminal Rate of Interest Comes into Effect January 1, 2025

Commencing January 1, 2025, the criminal rate of interest is changing for certain types of loans.

Read More
Jul 22, 2024
Featured Insight

Canada’s Updated Ineligibility and Suspension Policy for Federal Procurement Reveals Stricter Eligibility Requirements and More Flexible Enforcement Regime

Government of Canada has updated its eligibility requirements for suppliers involved procurement processes, creating more stringent but also flexible rules.

Read More
Jul 19, 2024
Featured Insight

Reviving Data Breach Class Actions: BC Court of Appeal Breathes New Life into Canadian Privacy and Cybersecurity Litigation

BCCA decisions revive support for Canadian data breach class actions after the viability of such proceedings was stifled by a trio of decisions from the ONCA.

Read More
Jul 18, 2024
Featured Insight

Understanding Quebec’s New Complaint Handling Regulation in the Financial Sector

This bulletin summarizes Quebec's new Regulation on complaint handling in the financial sector effective July 1, 2025.

Read More
Jul 17, 2024