Course Descriptions

The PSAC is proud to offer its members a union education program that ranks among the best and most comprehensive within the Canadian labour movement. Our various courses provide members with learning opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and personal confidence. Union education encourages participation and promotes mutual respect and understanding between members and the union leadership. A trained membership is an active membership and active members build a strong union.  (Note: Only courses listed on education program schedules are available)  ——————————————————————————————————————–


NEW * Politics For Everyone (2 days)

Did you ever wonder why Unions are involved in politics? Did you ever hear people say that you should be involved in politics? Did you ever wonder if politics is really as important as many people says it is?

Politics for Everyone is a great course for you!

We are affected by decisions of many levels of government as workers, voters and consumers. Politics for Everyone provides an opportunity to think about all those issues and for you to think seriously about the kind of government we want and the kind of society we want to build together.

Politics for Everyone is an Introductory (Basic) course with no pre-requisite.Talking Union Basics (TUB) (2 Days)Introduces members to the PSAC and prepares them for more advanced union education. It provides an historical and structural overview of the union, introduces participants to the collective agreement and gives them a chance for hands-on practice in problem-solving.  

“Our Communities, Our Union, Our Rights”: An Introduction to PSAC for Indigenous Members (NIPC- Talking Union Basics)

The NIPC course is for members who have had little or no exposure to their union and would like to learn more about it.

During the course participants will learn:

• the role of the union in advancing Indigenous rights in the workplace, the union, and our communities;

• resources and decision-making in the PSAC;

• how to become more active in the PSAC through local, regional and national structures.Grievance Handling (GH) (2 Days)Gives new shop stewards essential knowledge for handling Level I Grievances. Participants gain a better understanding of how to work with members at the initial stages of the grievance procedure and how to mobilize members around workplace problems. Open to: All members, and new Local Stewards are encouraged to apply.
Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent.
Duty to Accommodate (1 Day)This training is a must for Local Officers and other workplace representatives. You will learn what the law says about the Duty to Accommodate and how this law is applied in the workplace. These rights and our ability to enforce these rights have serious ramifications for the Members, the Union, and the Employer.Learning Objectives:By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Examine the basic principles of the Duty to Accommodate
  • Understand the legislation and jurisprudence that created the current context for our work on the Duty to Accommodate
  • Explore the employer’s obligations, the union’s role and the rights and responsibilities of workers

Lobbying Workshop (3 Hours)By the end of this activity, participants will develop an understanding of the importance of lobbying as a means of influencing the political system.  Lobbying Training (1 Day)Learn and practice the skills necessary to meet with elected officials and deliver your message to them.  Face to face meetings with MPs, MPPs, and city counsellors are the most effective way of creating change.By the end of this one-day course, participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of the importance of lobbying as a means of influencing the political system;
  • Practice lobbying skills through group roleplay.

Open to: All membersLobbying Training (2 Days)Learn and practice the skills necessary to meet with elected officials and deliver your message to them.  Face to face meetings with MPs, MPPs, and city counsellors are the most effective way of creating change.  We will also discuss speaking to the media and effective letter-writing campaigns.  We will focus on protecting pensions and the Phoenix debacle.By the end of this one-day course, participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of the importance of lobbying as a means of influencing the political system;
  • Practice lobbying skills through group roleplay.

Open to: All membersPrerequisite:  N/AIntroduction to Employment Equity (2 Days)  By the end of the course participants will:

  • Better understand the principles behind employment equity
  • Understand how employment equity works
  • Be able to defend employment equity and address commonly held myths about employment equity
  • Understand the union’s role in employment equity
  • Be able to take action to support employment equity

Introduction for Local Officers Training (LOT) (2 Days)Gives Local Officers essential knowledge for upholding their Local responsibilities and building a strong union. Participants learn:

  • How an effective Local functions;
  • Roles and responsibilities of the Local Executive;
  • How Executives can work well as a team, engage members, and
  • Deal effectively with management.

This basic course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Local Officers Training. Local Officers Advanced Training (2 Days)The basic Introduction for Local Officers course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Local Officers Training.By the end of this course Participants will be able to:

  • Identify important Local issues/responsibilities that require funding
  • Analyze existing Local budgets and financial statements to determine if priority issues have appropriate funding
  • Explain the purpose of Local by-laws and analyze existing by-laws to determine if they are satisfactory and develop a plan to create/amend/update their Local by-laws
  • Define the Duty of Fair Representation and be familiar with case law and the legislation and describe the major actions Locals need to take in discharging this duty
  • Explain what the law says about rights and protections for members and their union representatives with respect to union activity and identify workplace strategies for preserving and enhancing our union rights
  • Name and apply the key features of the Union’s Policy on Harassment as it relates to representation and identify the Local’s structure and processes to deal with harassment complaints
  • Identify the reasons for conducting membership meetings and analyze what attracts members to meetings and encourage membership interest and participation and look at alternatives
  • Identify the administrative tasks and procedures involved in running a local and prioritize and decide who is responsible
  • Identify the importance of maintaining a membership list and implement a process
  • Identify the steps in planning a budget and the main items in a budget
  • Identify the essential elements of effective minutes and reports and write clear and concise minutes and reports
  • Plan a workplace action that increases Local membership participation
  • Describe how our union organizes internally to bargain collectively and describe a barrier-free bargaining process and identify a list of activities Locals can organize to support the bargaining team and to improve the collective agreement

Representing and Advocating Against Workplace Racism (2 Days)Course Objectives:At the end of this course, members will:Know:

  • More about racism and racial discrimination
  • What to anticipate in racial discrimination situations
  • Options for addressing racial discrimination


  • Prepared to intervene effectively in racial discrimination cases
  • Able to advocate and represent on race discrimination grievances

Be able to:

  • Support racialized members who are victims of racism
  • Carry out their responsibilities in ensuring our members’ workplaces are free of racism
  • Identify appropriate means of resolving workplace racial discrimination situations

Open to: Stewards, Local Officers, Anti-Racism Advocates and Human Rights Activists. Graduates of the Advanced Representation Training for Stewards course (ARTS) and the Advanced Human Rights Activism (AHRA) course are encouraged to apply.Prerequisite: Participants must take the two-day Core Grievance Handling course OR have equivalent grievance handling experience OR have had experience in anti-racism advocacy (workplace or community).This course assumes that participants know basic concepts around human rights and grievance handling. Participants who have grievance handling experience but limited human rights experience should take the PSAC on-line course “Human Rights are Workers’ Rights”. Participants with human rights experiences and limited grievance handling experiences should take the PSAC on-line course “Grievances and Representation Primer”.  Occupational Disability Response Team (ODRT)Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)LEVEL 1 – Rights & Obligations (2 Days)Level 1 provides front-line advocacy skills to union members. Participants will receive an insight into the operations of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, as well as an understanding of the rights and obligations of injured workers. At the end of the training, participants will be able to assist injured workers in the steps of filing claims, completing forms, receiving benefits and service entitlements, and accident prevention protocols. Open to: All members. Of particular interest to Shop Stewards, Local Executive Members, Health and Safety Committee Members and Injured Workers.
Violence Prevention Course (2 Days)The purpose of this two-day course is to provide information and enforcement tools to PSAC Local executives, Health and Safety Committees and Local Stewards on the Canada Labour Code Part II requirements as it relates to violence prevention as well as its applicable regulations.
Representing Members with Mental Health Disabilities (1 Day)
This one day course will provide stewards with information and tools to effectively represent members with mental illness.Course Objectives: 

  • Introduction to mental health in the workplace
  • Improve our language and open our minds to the evolving respectful language
  • Understand your role and responsibilities in representing members with mental health issue
  • Understand the employer’s responsibilities related to mental health accommodation in the workplace
  • Build on resource file of websites, employee assistance programs and community support to educate ourselves and assist our members

PSAC Respectful Workplace – Anti-Harassment Course (2 Days)On day one, participants will; look at power relationships and how they affect the workplace, identify ways of effectively working across diversity, identify elements that make up a respectful workplace, discuss what is needed in order to establish and maintain a more respectful workplace, and identify and practice skills and methods for dealing effectively with workplace conflict.On day two, participants will; define harassment and bullying and the impact they have at work, look at policies, processes and the legal framework that governs harassment in the workplace, identify measures for preventing workplace harassment as well as formal and informal recourse routes, outline the roles and responsibilities of the parties in dealing with workplace harassment, be able to identify when harassment occurs and work through some effective strategies for dealing with workplace harassment when it occurs.  ————————————————————————–


The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent is a prerequisite for all Advanced programs. (Some courses offered regularly in context of the Ontario School)Alliance Facilitators’ Training Program (AFTP) (5 Days)
The goals of the course are to promote the Alliance Facilitators’ Network and strengthen PSAC locals through workplace and local-based union education. The AFTP develops members’ skills and self-confidence to undertake union education activities within their locals, their Components, and their regions. Participants explore how to identify learning needs, set learning objectives, facilitate discussions and develop workshops and seminars. Through practical exercises, participants learn how to choose and use various techniques and aids and how to foster positive group dynamics. They also learn the principles of popular and adult education and the elements of an effective learning experience. Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) course or equivalent.  Advanced Representation Training for Stewards (ARTS) (4 Days) By the end of this course you will:

  • Clearly outline the role and responsibilities of Stewards in the union and the workplace and feel confident in fulfilling those duties
  • Develop Stewards as problem solvers, organizers and effective communicators
  • Review the legal context in which stewards operate
  • Identify resources that Stewards can avail themselves of
  • Explore trends and emerging issues that Stewards will likely be exposed to
  • Further develop representation skills including; interviewing, note-taking, file-keeping, fact-finding, problem-solving and case analysis, and grievance representation
  • Be able to manage member expectations regarding the grievance process
  • Fully outline and put into practice, the steps and processes involved in filing a grievance and taking it to its final conclusion

You are encouraged to request Leave with Pay from your Employer. This course includes skills development in leadership and problem-solving.Open to: Experienced and New Local Stewards. Directly Chartered Local Stewards are encouraged to apply.
Pre-requisites include: Talking Union Basics, Grievance Handling (recommended 36 to 6 months prior to the course), *Tier 1 Steward Series, and some experience representing members with management*Tier 1 Steward Series online modules are found here: online course takes 45-60 minutes to complete. (The classroom equivalents are 1.5-3 hours in length.)

  •   Why Unions?
  •   Role of Stewards
  •   Building our Union
  •   Steward as Problem-solvers
  •   Grievances: An Overview
  •   Human Rights in the Workplace

Human Rights Activism (4 Days)The course is designed for union members interested in developing their skills, knowledge and attitudes to become human rights activists in their union, workplace and community. Participants will be able to develop basic strategies and identify appropriate union and community resources to respond to discrimination, harassment and inequities in the workplace and in the union; develop a plan to apply the learning from the course to their work setting, union and community; network and work collaboratively with other human rights activists in the union/community and to share information and resources in your union and in your region. You will participate in specific modules on Racism, Aboriginal Awareness, Pride, and Disability Awareness. You will explore the meaning of power as it relates to issues of human rights. You will develop a model of activism for human rights work and struggles. Members who apply for this course must be supportive of PSAC Policy Statements on human rights issues including employment equity, sexual orientation, anti-racism, Aboriginal Workers, disability issues, and PSAC Anti-Harassment Policies. Open to: Local Executive Officers, Stewards, Human Rights Activists including Community Activists, Local/Regional Human Rights/Equity Committee Members including members of Joint Equity/Human Rights Committees, Component OfficersPrerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent. Political and Social Activism (P.S.A.) (4 DAYS)We are affected by decisions of many levels of government as workers, voters and consumers. Political and Social Activism provides an opportunity for you to think seriously about the kind of government we want and the kind of society we want to build together. If you are interested in political action – working with others in the workplace or community, between elections or during election campaigns – this may be the course for you. Topics include direct action, working with the media, coalition building, the political system, defending public services, creating membership awareness, lobbying elected representatives, use of the Internet in relation to social and political action, mobilization techniques, globalization and trade. Prerequisite: The TALKING UNION BASICS (TUB) course or equivalent.
Advanced Duty to Accommodate (DTA) (4 Days)By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify discrimination in workplace culture, practices, policies and procedures;
  • Define the current meaning and context of workplace accommodation;
  • Act on their legal accommodation rights;
  • Explain the effect of accessing legal routes on workplace accommodation;
  • Identify the elements of a good workplace accommodation policy;
  • Identify workplace barriers to the full participation of persons from equality seeking groups;
  • Identify measures that promote the full participation of equality seeking groups in the workplace
  • Identify essential elements of return to work programs;
  • Understand the links between return to work programs and the duty to accommodate;
  • Begin the process of developing pro-active strategies to support inclusive workplaces for the “returning worker”.

Open to: Human Rights Activists, Members of Equity Committees, Health and Safety Activists, WSIB Advocates, Members of Return to Work Committees.
You must request Leave With Pay from your Employer as Duty to Accommodate is an Employer Responsibility.Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent.

PSAC Anti-Harassment Workplace Policy Training (4 Days)This intensive 4-day course clarifies what is harassment and examines roles and responsibilities under union and employer policies. You will learn how to implement and apply PSAC Anti-Harassment Policy 23A: The Workplace.  You will review alternate processes to resolve complaints, what to expect from an employer investigation, and the Duty of Fair Representation. You will learn how to conduct a local investigation. By the end of the course, participants should have a good working knowledge of PSAC anti-harassment policies and be able to help create harassment-free workplaces. Open to: All Members including Local Stewards responsible for handling harassment complaints, Harassment Complaint Coordinators, Component and Alliance Officers.Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent.
Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) (4 Days)Level I: Occupational Health and Safety Training
This course will provide participants with a basic level of occupational health and safety awareness including hazard recognition and the legal rights and responsibilities of all workplace parties. It’s also designed to build participant confidence and encourage active involvement in workplace health and safety initiatives. The Level I program consists of seven (7) core modules

  1. Body in the Workplace
  2. Workplace Toxins
  3. Principles Of Control
  4. Behavior Based Safety
  5. OHS Training Level 1
  6. We Are One Voice
  7. When The Body Hurts
  8. Workplace Violence and Harassment or Stress in the Workplace
  9. Indoor Air
  10. Critical Incident and Post Traumatic Stress

Open to: PSAC members who are either members of the Joint Health & Safety Committees or are workplace Health & Safety Representatives. The course is open to members from both the provincial and the federal labour jurisdiction.
Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) course is strongly recommended.
Loss Of Salary: Applicants must request Salary Replacement by your Employer as H&S is an Employer obligation. Unions Work for Women (5 Days)The goal of the course is to build a better union, better workplaces and a better society by encouraging and supporting active PSAC women in their struggle for fairness, equality and social justice. By the end of the course participants will:

  • Know about the herstory and current work of the labour and social justice movements;
  • Know about the fragility of the movements’ gains, especially in the current economic and political context;
  • Feel part of a movement for change, for equality and for social justice;
  • Feel increased confidence in their skills and knowledge;
  • Be able to work strategically with other activists;
  • Be able to take on a leadership role in the PSAC, in their workplaces and in their communities.

Prerequisite: The Talking Union Basics (TUB) or its equivalent.
Unionism on Turtle Island (4 Days)

This course is for PSAC members who:

  • Are ready to work as an Ally in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in their union, workplace and community;
  • Have completed the TUB (Talking Union Basics) course or the NIPC (National Indigenous Peoples’ Circle) TUB course
  • Would like to learn more about the issues facing Indigenous workers;
  • Want to challenge barriers to diversity within the union and workplace.

Course Overview:

The Unionism on Turtle Island course will bring together up to 20 PSAC members from across the Ontario Region for an intense four days of talking, learning, laughing, questioning and supporting each other. Participants will explore the history of oppression and resistance, Indigenous issues at the bargaining table, creating a representative workforce, and opening the union to Indigenous activists.  This course will provide a comfortable and supportive environment in which participants can explore their attitudes, ideas and questions.  Participants will develop strategies to encourage solidarity and build the union.  ————————————————————————- 

PSAC Steward Series

Tier One courses are broad-based, while Tier Two courses offer more specific learning for stewards who want to develop areas of expertise.

Tier One and Tier Two courses are also available on-line here:

Online courses take 45-60 minutes to complete.

Tier One Courses are a Pre-requisite for the Advanced Representation Training for Steward (ARTS).

PSAC Steward Series – Tier One Modules  



  • Strengthen communication skills focusing on listening, speaking and planning a one-to-one conversation with a member;
  • Practice strategic approaches to communicating with members;
  • Explore ways to recruit members to get involved in our union through communication.

Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes



  • Identify what a grievance is and the types of grievances;
  • Understand the roles in the grievance process;
  • Understand how the PSAC represents on grievances;
  • Understand some of the challenges inherent in the grievance process.

Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes



  • Understand the definition of human rights, discrimination, and harassment;
  • Understand the importance of defending and advancing human rights issues in the workplace;
  • Understand a union representative’s role in advancing human rights in the workplace;
  • Examine available tools, recourses and resources for defending and advocating for human rights in the workplace.

Time: 3 hours



  • Determine what the role of the shop steward is and is not;
  • List the legal protections and rights that shop stewards have;
  • Understand where shop stewards fit, structurally, in our union;
  • Identify ways a shop steward can help build a strong worksite.

Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes



  • Explore conflict resolution tips that can be used in the workplace;
  • Practice holding meetings, interviewing complainants and documenting important facts;
  • Brainstorm ways to deal with workplace problems outside the grievance procedure.

Time: 3 hours



  • Talk about how unions are good for workers;
  • Know a little more about the labour movement and PSAC history;
  • Identify current challenges for the labour movement.

Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

PSAC Steward Series – Tier Two: Group A Modules



  • Know the history of colonialism and oppression of Aboriginal peoples in Canada;
  • Know examples of how Aboriginal peoples in Canada have resisted and continue to resist oppression and colonialism;
  • Know the role of stewards in promoting justice for Aboriginal members in the workplace;
  • Feel greater confidence in their skills and knowledge as stewards;
  • Feel determined to help bring about justice for Aboriginal peoples;
  • Be able to debunk common misconceptions about Aboriginal peoples;
  • Be able to demonstrate solidarity with Aboriginal members;
  • Be able to help their Local better connect with Aboriginal members.

Time: 3 hours



  • Know what a disability is;
  • Know the range of visible and invisible disabilities that exist;
  • Know what ableism and how it operates in our workplaces;
  • Know the role of stewards in making workplaces accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities
  • Feel increased confidence in their skills and knowledge as stewards;
  • Feel solidarity with members with disabilities;
  • Be able to be allies to members with disabilities in the workplace;
  • Be able to notice and challenge ableist attitudes – in ourselves and others;
  • Be able to evaluate how accessible their workplace currently is and determine what needs to change.

Time: 3 hours



  • To better understand sexism;
  • To recognize sexism when it happens;
  • To be able to intervene when sexism occurs;
  • To identify what the union is doing to affect change to address sexism in the workplace and in the union.

Time: 3 hours



  • Define homophobia and heterosexism;
  • Explore homophobia as a social construct, not just a “fear” or a “phobia”;
  • Review the history of GLB struggles;
  • Explore the use of language to empower and disempower;
  • Identify gains made by unions for GLB members/communities;
  • Identify the legal protections for GLB individuals and members;
  • Establish the role of the steward in addressing GLB issues in the workplace/union.

Time: 3 hours



  • Define Trans, Gender Identity, Gender Expression;
  • Build our understanding of the trans experience to foster compassion as a steward;
  • Understand the steward’s role when a member transitions from one gender to another;
  • Understand the employer’s responsibilities during worker transitions;
  • Review collective agreement language that protects trans members;
  • Understand the laws that protect trans workers;
  • Have the basic knowledge and tools to properly represent a transitioning member.

Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes



  • Define the duty to accommodate and recognize when accommodation is needed;
  • Develop an understanding of the responsibilities of the parties with regards to workplace accommodation;
  • Identify where a steward can go for assistance and resources when dealing with workplace accommodation issues;
  • Be able to assist members, as a steward, in dealing with accommodation issues.

Time: 3 hours



  • Be able to articulate what employment equity is and why it is important;
  • Know the basic legal framework;
  • Have a sense of the employer and union roles with respect to employment equity and where stewards fit into the picture;
  • Be equipped to dispel commonly held myths about employment equity;
  • Be ready to take action in the workplace to make employment equity a priority.

Time: 3 hours



  • Have more understanding about mental health disabilities and mental health in the workplace;
  • Be able to acknowledge and dispel myths and stigmas around mental health;
  • Be better able to engage/represent members with mental health disabilities;
  • Recognize the importance of mental health as a workplace health and safety issue;
  • Have tools to assist with taking action in the workplace.

Time: 3 hours



  • Be able to talk about racism with increased ease and confidence;
  • Have a deeper understanding of racism, how it operates, and its impact;
  • Be able to recognize obvious and subtle expressions of racism;
  • Be clear on the role of stewards as allies for racial justice;
  • Be equipped with tools and strategies to address racism and promote racial justice;
  • Know how to intervene when racism occurs.

Time: 3 hours

PSAC Steward Series – Tier Two: Group B Modules



  • Know what harassment is and what it isn’t;
  • Understand the role of the steward in the intervention and prevention of harassment;
  • Know the ways that workers are protected from harassment;
  • Be able to recognize harassment and effectively intervene when it happens;
  • Be able to articulate the impact of harassment on all the players involved: the target, the witnesses, the union, the employer, and the harasser;
  • Feel hope and optimism that harassment-free workplaces are achievable.

Time: 3 hours



  • Understand what the duty of fair representation (DFR) means to stewards and the union;
  • Have a better understanding of the important aspects of DFR legislation;
  • Be able to clearly define the meaning of arbitrary, discriminatory and bad faith.

Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes



  • Have an enhanced understanding of economics;
  • Know how the current economic and political agenda is impacting workplaces, families and communities;
  • Be able to view current economic and political agendas with a critical lens;
  • Be equipped to counter commonly held myths about our economy;
  • Be able to approach workplace problems in a way that takes in to account the broader economic and political context.

Time: 3 hours



  • Build an understanding of the importance of collective action and mobilization to the Union;
  • Examine the factors that lead to member participation in actions;
  • Know the steward’s role in mobilizing members;
  • Explore tools to plan for successful actions;
  • Identify possible actions;
  • Practice mobilizing around a specific action.

Time: 3 hours



  • Know more about the roles and responsibilities of workers, employers and unions regarding healthy and safe workplaces;
  • Feel increased confidence talking with other members about their health and safety rights;
  • Be able to describe ways to build healthy and safe workplaces.

Time: 3 hours



  • Recognize when conflict emerges;
  • Develop an understanding of how to strategically deal with conflict as a steward;
  • Practice dealing with conflict as a steward

Time: 3 hours