For too many years, Ontario workers have been struggling to get by on low wages and precarious jobs. While the cost of living increased and corporate profits continued to break records, workers saw their wages stagnate.
In 2013, after four years of the minimum wage being frozen at $10.25, workers came together to launch the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage. Communities across Ontario organized creative actions on the 14th of every month to demand that the government ‘melt the freeze’ and bring in a $14 minimum wage.
This organizing pressured the Ontario government to increase the minimum wage from $10.25 to $11.00 an hour in 2014, and to index it to annual cost of living increases. But we could not stop there. The minimum wage, currently at $11.60 an hour, still leaves workers 17% below the poverty line.
That’s why on April 15th, 2015, we launched the Fight for $15 & Fairness. Since then, workers, students, health care providers, and faith leaders have been mobilizing in communities and workplaces across Ontario. We collected thousands of signatures on petitions, engaged in creative public actions, participated in government consultations, organized forums and film screenings, and wrote letters to newspapers. On picket lines across the province, we joined forces with unionized workers to fight employer efforts to drive down wages and working conditions. In workplaces, on campuses, and on the streets, we fought for the rights of migrant workers and organized against sexism, racism, and Islamophobia.
Our organizing has paid off. In November 2017, the provincial government introduced major reforms to Ontario’s labour laws. On January 1st, 2018, the minimum wage will go up to $14 an hour, and then to $15 an hour on January 1st, 2019. Workers have also won paid sick days and personal emergency leave for all, equal pay for equal work, fairer scheduling, and easier access to unionization.
These wins are historic, but our work is not done. There is a provincial election coming up in June 2018. The Conservative Party has aligned itself with Big Business lobbyists and has committed to rolling back these labour law improvements. We must continue to build our movement to defend what we’ve won, and to expand our gains until every worker has $15 and fairness. Join us.