Canada’s largest private sector union announced today that 40 employees from a Toronto cannabis dispensary will be joining their ranks.
Unifor, who says they have 310,000 members across the country in every major sector of the Canadian economy, says employees from Toronto’s Canna Clinic reached out with concerns around their rights and safety as workers.
Although the business in question is not a legal business (medical cannabis dispensaries are not legal in Canada), a representative for Unifor says they are happy to protect the rights of all workers.
“They have an employer relationship,” says Kapha Fortier, Assistant to the National President of Unifor, “they get paid by the employer, they pay taxes and all the other things that would normally come off of your paycheck, so as far as we’re concerned, this is an employee/employer relationship and that’s what we would represent the workers in.”
Fortier says the employees reached out to the union with concerns around safety, workers rights, wages and more, and the union was happy to help. They already represent numerous public sector workers, including pharmacy employees, so this is not any different.
“A lot of this is just normal reasons that people want to join a union,” says Fortier. “It’s about having your rights respected, seniority, being treated fairly. It’s a growing industry, obviously, and they just want fair working conditions, not unlike any other group of workers who wants to join a union.”
In a press release from the union, Unifor Organizing Director John Aman said that safety and staff training are among the main concerns for the workers. “These workers turned to Unifor because they want to build careers in the industry, which is expected to grow rapidly with legalization next year and are seeking help for fair working conditions.”
Canna Clinic has several locations across Canada, including four in Vancouver and six in Toronto. The newly unionized staff includes reception, production and packaging and retail staff, as well as supervisors. Unifor hopes the organizing efforts spark interest at the other Canna Clinics in Ontario.
The location in question at Broadway and was robbed earlier this year.