International Human Rights Day: Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized communities

International Human Rights Day is a day to celebrate and recommit to advancing human rights here at home and globally.  

Seventy-two years ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights. It was a revolutionary document for the times.  

The world was just emerging from a brutal war that killed 75 million people. Workers and others around the globe were demanding a better world. They wanted peace. They wanted jobs. And they wanted an end to all forms of discrimination. They knew there can be no peace without equity, no peace without justice. And the powerful nations of the world had no choice but to respond. 

For the past nine months we have been going through another global upheaval and Canada’s marginalized communities have been hardest hit by COVID-19 - people with disabilities, Indigenous, racialized and Black communities, seniors, women, LGBTQ2+ communities, as well as low-income, unemployed and homeless people.  

The pandemic has shined a light on deep-rooted historical and ongoing inequities like disproportionate police violence towards Black and Indigenous peoples. These same groups, including persons with disabilities have suffered the most, and so have women, because they hold such a high proportion of front-line, low-paid, dangerous jobs. Women, more than men, have ended up doing most of the child care and eldercare and have ended up having to leave their jobs or reducing their work hours. 

Now, as we slowly emerge from the global pandemic, we too must demand a better world and we must organize for the change we want.  The pandemic exposed the long-standing and deep systemic inequity in this country. We have to uproot that inequity. 

In Canada, that means pushing the federal government to: 

  • Follow through on its commitments to build a universal, affordable and high quality child care system across Canada; 

  • Protect seniors and our most vulnerable by taking the profit out of long-term care; 

  • Make concrete progress and properly fund its commitments to increase diversity and inclusion in workplaces and stamp out systemic racism across Canada; 

  • Deliver on the implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) 

A just recovery from the pandemic must and will be PSAC’s priority. 


December 10, 2020