Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
Geography: 1914-1929 Geography: 1914-1929 Geography: 1930-1939

Winnipeg General Strike

From May 15 to June 26, 1919, 30,000 workers in Winnipeg’s factories, retail businesses and public sectors walked off the job to protest a lack of collective bargaining rights, poor working conditions and low wages. Employers and the federal government labelled the strike a revolutionary conspiracy led by foreigners from enemy countries, refused to recognize the strikers’ legitimate concerns and address them through negotiation and, when they refused to return to work, resorted to violence. On June 17, strikers and leaders J. S. Woodsworth and Abraham Heaps were arrested and charged with sedition. The strike, continued, however, until June 21, when RCMP charged a crowd of strikers, resulting in 30 casualties and one death. Shaken by the willingness of employers and the government to force an end to the strike, workers ended their protest and returned to their jobs. Although the strike ended through force instead of negotiation, activists like Woodsworth and Heaps remained committed to seeing workers’ entitlements met, particularly collective bargaining rights and social welfare measures. 

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010