Seven unions unite: demand changes to Pandemic Treaty

tired health care workers

December 8 2023

7 of the largest labour unions in Canada and Quebec have joined forces to send a letter to the Minister of Health, Mark Holland, and other MPs demanding amendments to an international agreement on pandemic prevention known as the Pandemic Treaty.

The unions are all members of Public Services International (PSI) that represents health workers, and care workers. Collectively, they represent more than 500,000 workers who provide services in every aspect of the health care sector.

The joint letter, sent on December 7, 2023, is signed by COPE President Annette Toth; CUPE President, Mark Hancock; CSQ President Éric Gingras; FIQ President Julie Bouchard; NUPGE President Bert Blundon; PSAC President Chris Aylward; and SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart.

In the letter, the Presidents express concern that the first session of the seventh round of discussions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB7) held November 6–10 did not adequately address key priorities for health workers and care workers.

Key issues raised in letter to Minister of Health

The 6-page letter urges the Minister of Health to address several key points during the resumed INB7 session December 4–8, 2023:

  • Uphold the Right to Decent Work for Health Workers and Care Workers
  • Ensure Public Financing for Public Goods
  • Waive Patent Rights in All Cases of Public Health Emergencies
  • Ensure Everyone Shares and Everyone Benefits
  • Strengthen Health Systems to Prevent Health Emergencies
  • Include the climate crisis as a central priority to be considered in all pandemic and hazard preparedness and response programs.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body is a process to draft and negotiate an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, also known as the WHO Pandemic Treaty. The Presidents worked on the letter with the support of Public Services International (PSI), the global union federation representing public services, health workers, and care workers around the world, to which we are affiliated.