Jessica

  • City News: Temporary worker’s death prompts concerns about Ford government labour bill

    The death of a temporary worker last week at a loading dock in North York has some opposition MPPs questioning the Ford government’s commitment to workplace safety.

    The Ministry of Labour is investigating the death of the worker — a man in his 40s — who was pinned between a truck and loading dock near Keele Street and Steeles Avenue on Thursday night.

    He was working for Upper Crust, a company affiliated with Toronto-based commercial bakery Fiera Foods, which has been investigated for three previous workplace deaths.

    At Queen’s Park on Monday, Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser accused Premier Doug Ford of putting workers’ lives in jeopardy by repealing most of the previous Liberal government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148) through the introduction of Bill 47, which decreases fines for companies that break labour laws.

    Learn more about Bill 47

    Proactive workplace inspections by the Ministry of Labour have also been scaled back by the Ford government.

    For Fraser it adds up to more protections for companies, and less for their employees.

    “When somebody goes to work, their family expect them to come home,” Fraser said. “The protections that were put forward in Bill 148 … are key to promoting worker safety, and key to keeping people alive while they’re at work. The government is going backwards …they are not making Ontario’s workplaces safer.

    “It’s not every workplace that needs a proactive inspection, but there are certainly some that do,” he added. “So the government shouldn’t be rolling these back, they should be fulfilling these commitments that were made in legislation to ensure that workers are safe.”

    Bill 47 would also repeal equal pay for equal work protections for temporary workers. Labour advocates say the legislation leaves employees, especially temporary workers, vulnerable.

    “Part of us fighting to try and improve basic protections was Bill 148…now what we are seeing (is) the Ford government introduce Bill 47 to take away all those protections,” said Deena Ladd, executive director of Workers Action Centre.

    “Another shocking part of Bill 47 is the government is reducing penalties for companies that break the law and freezing the amount of employment standard officers to do those proactive inspections.

    “I think that is going to send a huge message to companies who are routine violators … that it doesn’t really matter if you break the law, the penalties won’t be that much. I just find that absolutely shocking.”

    Fiera Foods linked to other workplace deaths

    NDP MPP for Spadina-Fort York, Chris Glover, believes the recent workplace death, the fourth linked to Fiera Foods, is a red flag that can’t be ignored.

    “Obviously, with what happened — the fourth death at that company — there is a strong indication that we need stronger worker protections at that company,” he said. “We need more inspectors to go in and make sure that that workplace is safe, that this isn’t going to happen again.”

    Fiera Foods was fined $300,000 in September 2017 after the death of a temporary worker whose hijab became entangled in a conveyor belt.

    In 2011, a 69-year-old man was struck by a car and later dragged by a tractor-trailer in the parking lot of another Fiera affiliated company.

    And back in 2002, Fiera was fined $150,000 following in the death of a 17-year-old temporary worker who was crushed while cleaning machinery.

    Upper Crust’s President Carmela Serebryany released a statement to CityNews stating they will continue to cooperate with the police, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Labour as they investigate.

    “Last week, the Upper Crust bakery family tragically lost one of our team members in an accident at the outdoor loading dock area of our property in North York.  We are deeply and profoundly saddened by this sudden loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family and loved ones. We will continue to work in full cooperation with police, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Ministry of Labour as they investigate the issue and speak with all relevant parties. Upper Crust bakery supports measures to ensure a safe workplace and fairness for workers. While we hope to add our voice to a constructive debate about ways to make workplaces safer in due course, we are at present observing respect for the deceased.”

    Glover puts some of the onus on the government to assure workplaces are safe for all employees.

    “Right now, there’s a family who is absolutely devastated, who has lost a loved one, and they are going through that grieving process and it’s the fourth time it has happened at that company,” he added. “So the government really needs to step up, get their inspectors in there, find out what’s happening, and make sure something like this never happens again.”

    Minister of Labour Laurie Scott said the latest death was being investigated, and acknowledged Fiera Food’s history, but said she couldn’t comment beyond that.

    “I know there’s the history there (with Fiera Foods), but the Ministry of Labour is investigating and I can’t comment on investigations.”

    Watch the City News full story


  • Bay Today: Opinion - MPP should 'do what’s right and vote against Doug Ford’s irrational and mean-spirited plan'

    Low paid work might be good for the bottom line, but it doesn’t let families invest in the lives of their children and in the economy of our communities

    Dear MPP Fedeli

    You have an important choice to make. As educators living and working in the Nipissing region, we think it’s wrong that you support Doug Ford’s plan to ignore the immediate needs of precarious workers. We believe that all earners in Nipissing need decent wages and fair working conditions to lead good lives. MPP Fedeli, we urge you to do what’s right and vote against Doug Ford’s irrational and mean-spirited plan.

    As educators, we know the importance of decent jobs, especially for the parents of children and our youngest workers, high school and post-secondary students. We see the benefits of a $15 minimum wage, two paid sick days, and equal pay for equal work, not just as good economics, but as important social determinants of health and well-being. Doug Ford’s rollback of our labour laws is harmful to our community. If not you, MPP Fedeli, then who will stand up for workers in our communities?

    We have a front row seat to the impact of low wages. Low paid work might be good for the bottom line, but it doesn’t let families invest in the lives of their children and in the economy of our communities. Faced with last-minute scheduling parents can’t commit to coach soccer teams or be a steadying presence in school advisory committees, for example. Our families need to be the priorities in the lives of working people, not the increasing demands of more hours, multiple jobs, and less money.

    What will happen when Doug Ford decides to eliminate the tuition grant program, MPP Fedeli? How will people afford to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive, taxpaying members of our society? More crippling and tsunami-like loans are not the answer. Higher incomes help people make their lives better.

    MPP Fedeli, we don’t want our young adults to leave Nipissing. With fewer decent jobs as the reality, available employment needs to allow families the ability to pay the bills. Since the $14 minimum wage came in, Ontario’s full-time jobs have increased and unemployment rates have fallen to record lows. For the first time in a long time more families have more money to help them find ways to lead lasting and meaningful lives in the North. We urge you to vote against Bill 47.

    Nipissing Educators for $15
    Dave Vadnais
    Jared Hunt
    Diane Wall
    Ian Mizzi
    Catherine Murton
    StoehrEvan Newman
    Glen Hodgson
    Steve Johnson
    Tammy Martel
    John Patterson
    Ann Johnson
    Lindsey Voisin
    Rick Belisle
    Connie Hergott
    Gillian McCann
    Troy Simkins
    Parker Robinson
    Nipissing University Faculty Association

    Read the Bay today full story


  • NOW Toronto: Doug Ford government spins fake news to ditch minimum wage hike

    By Peter Biesterfeld

    Open for business? The Ford government and their big-business lobbies blame the introduction of a $14 minimum wage for the loss of 90,000 jobs in Ontario, but that's not what the real economic numbers show

    Since Doug Ford made his campaign threat to dismantle Liberal labour reforms (Bill 148), there have been almost daily rallies and social media campaigns as part of a province-wide resistance movement on precarious employment.

    Last week, Ford followed through on his warning, killing plans for a $1 increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, among other measures, in the name of “efficiencies.” The Bill also introduced changes to vacation entitlements, paid sick days and equal pay rules.

    The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Retail Council of Canada, Food and Beverage Ontario and temp agency lobby group ACSESS (Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services) have all been calling for the Ford government to quash the bill.

    “We have been persistently urging the government to take immediate action and repeal Bill 148 due to the compounding labour reforms, which come at too high a cost to the economy and workers,” reads an OCC press release that was regurgitated verbatim in the legislature by Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson.

    On October 3, OCC head Rocco Rossi went further. He told CBC Metro Morning that Ontario lost 90,000 jobs since changes under Bill 148, including a $14 minimum wage, were introduced. 

    Labour minister Laurie Scott made the same claims in an op-ed in the National Post in September – “our province’s largest monthly job loss in a decade. Every single one of those lost jobs was a part-time job.

    “Unfortunately, the previous Liberal government chose to put the burden of an abrupt and dramatic increase on the back of our small businesses,” Scott wrote.

    Yet Statistics Canada figures show that employment in Ontario’s service sector grew by 1.3 per cent at a slightly higher rate than the national average of 1.2 per cent over the last 12 months. 

    “This means that the total number of hours worked grew at nearly double the rate,” reports Canadian labour news website rankandfile.ca. “This is the exact opposite of what the Chamber of Commerce is claiming is happening.” 

    Rankandfile.ca has called out the Ford government and big-business lobbies for “repeatedly twisting the facts on job numbers to attack the minimum wage.”

    The claim is backed by Scotiabank, which stated in its February economic review that “there is no discernible evidence of a minimum-wage impact on hours worked in Ontario. Employment losses in the province in January were not concentrated in ‘minimum-wage’ industries.” 

    Similarly, the National Bank of Canada’s August survey of employment, payrolls and hours found that “employment in the country’s largest province is rising at the fastest pace in years, faster than the national average.” 

    A Globe and Mail opinion piece authored by four research economists from universities across the country points out that in three states and dozens of U.S. cities that have adapted “living wage” policies, “there is no credible evidence that this clear trend in labour policy is hurting job creation.”

    Gilleen Pearce, a small business owner and coordinator with Better Way Alliance, a network of employers that support a living wage, says the Ford government is misrepresenting the business community’s views on Bill 148. 

    Most Ontario businesses support a $15 minimum wage or higher, she says, “For the simple reason that either they were already paying more or they understand that you get and keep better employees if you pay better.” 

    Bill 148 was a rewrite of outdated Ontario labour legislation, which came under scrutiny after years of grassroots pressure for a living wage culminated in the province-wide $14 Now campaign in 2013. 

    After two years of public consultations, special advisors leading “the largest review of Ontario’s labour laws conducted in decades” concluded in the 400-page Changing Workplaces Review report “that there are too many people in too many workplaces who do not receive their basic rights.” 

    Researchers found “substantial non-compliance” with basic labour standards, including failing to pay wages on time or not paying overtime. Recommendations included comprehensive amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Kathleen Wynne’s newly elected government responded with Bill 148. 

    “We campaigned for much more comprehensive change,” says Pam Frache, who works out of the Workers’ Action Centre, “a union for non-union workers” on Spadina. “But we were very happy with the recommendations that were made.” 

    Frache says that for business lobbies to now say there has been no input and that Bill 148 is “too much too soon” is disingenuous. 

    “The business community was well represented in two rounds of consultations. In fact, some of the changes that were made to what we we’re putting forward were modified by the business community.” 

    Frache says that during the review, many progressive businesses across the province spoke out. “These are employers who really believe that paying decent wages, treating workers with respect and dignity on the job is actually key to their success.”

    A 2016 Ryerson University study found temporary and on-call agency employees reported “a collective sense of unpredictability, lack of control over one’s schedule and inability to plan that permeated participants’ work and family lives.” 

    The study, A Public Health Crisis In The Making: The Health Impacts Of Precarious Work On Racialized Refugee And Immigrant Women, reported that “many participants had weekly incomes that added up to much less than the hourly minimum wage if averaged over the week.” And that “participants lived in constant fear of not getting enough hours of work. Participants said they could not afford to fall sick because it would mean lost wages. Many said that if they were sick for more than a couple of days, they were quite likely to lose their job.” 

    “It’s a health issue,” says Frache. “All the evidence shows that.” Try telling it the Ford government. 

    Read the NOW Toronto full story


  • Huff Post: PC Labour Law Is 'Massive Step Backwards For Health Care,' Ontario Doctor Says

    By Emma Paling

    Without paid sick days, sick people will go to work and infect others, Dr. Danyaal Raza said

    Jill Promoli wonders if her son would still be alive if another child stayed home from school.

    Promoli's two-year-old Jude — named for The Beatles song — got a fever in May 2016 after his older sister picked up a bug at her kindergarten class.

    He was dead within a day. It was influenza B.

    "When people are sick, they need to stay home," she said at a press conference at Queen's Park on Tuesday.

    Jill Promoli holds a photo of her late son, Jude, after a press conference at Queen's Park

    The Mississauga, Ont. mom was in Toronto to criticize the Ontario government's new labour legislation with workers' advocacy group Fight for $15 and Fairness.

    Progressive Conservatives announced last week that they'd repeal parts of a Liberal-era labour bill. Their new legislation, Bill 47, will take away two guaranteed paid sick days a year and let employers demand a doctor's note for absences. It also strips temporary and part-time workers of the right to be paid the same as their full-time counterparts.

    "It's not just a labour issue. It's a public health issue," Promoli said.

    'A massive step backwards'

    If the law passes, more people will be spreading flus and colds at school, at work and in public, a family physician said at the press conference.

    "Bill 47 is a massive step backwards for health care in Ontario," Dr. Danyaal Raza said.

    Patients will get others sick when they take the bus to the doctor, or go into work because they can't afford to lose a day's pay, he said.

    There will also be long-term consequences for public health. Research shows that without paid sick days, employees get fewer flu shots, fewer mammograms, fewer pap smears and fewer blood pressure checks, Raza said.

    Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott have promised to end what they call "hallway health care," or the practice of treating patients in hallways because there aren't enough hospital rooms.

    This bill will do the opposite, Raza said.

    Doctors will have less time to treat ill patients when they're busy writing sick notes so that workers with common colds don't get fired, he said.

    "It's absurd. It's such a waste of time and such a waste of resources."

    The health minister's press secretary refused questions on Bill 47 because it's a labour bill. A spokeswoman for Labour Minister Laurie Scott said that requiring doctors' notes is an "attendance management tool" for employers.

    The move will make it harder for employees to abuse their three unpaid sick days, Christine Bujold said in an email.

    Fight for $15 and Fairness has recommended that everyone be given seven paid sick days a year. The two paid days legislated by former premier Kathleen Wynne's government was far from enough, Raza said.

    "We're not being particularly innovative here," he said. "We're just trying to catch up and do the bare minimum."

    Read the Huff Post full story


  • The Varsity: Provincial government to repeal Bill 148, targeting minimum wage, workplace legislation

    By Ann Marie Elpa

    U of T under fire for membership in anti-Bill 148 lobby group

    Premier Doug Ford’s government introduced legislation on October 23 to repeal parts of Bill 148 — the law that raised Ontario’s minimum wage from $11.25 to $14 an hour and strengthened workplace laws related to paid sick leave, equal pay for equal work, and other workers’ rights.

    The University of Toronto has come under fire from local labour unions for its membership in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), an independent, non-partisan business lobby group that has been a vocal supporter of repealing the bill. As a corporate member, U of T does not have voting rights but it can still influence the policy agenda.

    Bill 148, titled the “Fairer Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017,” was introduced by the previous Liberal government in November 2017. The bill was set to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in January 2019, but Ford’s government has capped minimum wage at the current $14 an hour.

    The OCC has taken a strong stance against the bill. The group cites claims of unintended price inflation on goods and services, as well as cutbacks on staffing and benefits by small businesses, among its grievances.

    “In the months following its introduction, the Fair Jobs, Better Workplaces Act has had a visible impact on the Consumer Price Index, resulting in price increases for everyday consumer goods and services for every family in Ontario,” read an OCC press release from October 23.

    Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the OCC, said in a statement that “as Ontario’s business advocate, our position has always been clear: Bill 148 was too much, too fast. The compounding labour reforms and unintended consequences came at too high a cost to Ontario’s economy.”

    Labour unions respond

    The Ford government’s plans to repeal parts of Bill 148 have been met with strong pushback. On October 23, Ontario Labour Minister Laurie Scott’s office was broken into and vandalized, and the words “Attack Workers We Fight Back $15” were spraypainted on the walls outside her office.

    Labour unions have been especially vocal in their opposition to the seemingly imminent repeal of Bill 148. Emergency rallies were held across Ontario over the past week in response to Ford’s plans.

    One rally was held in downtown Toronto on October 24 in front of the offices of the Ministry of Labour. Local labour groups, including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and UFCW Local 175 and 633 were out in force. Groups held signs with messages of “$15 and fairness,” and cheers included “Hey Ford — Stop your hypocrisy! Fairness means democracy!”

    The Varsity spoke to two U of T labour unions, CUPE 3261 and CUPE 3902, regarding the university’s position on the repeal of Bill 148. CUPE 3261 represents service workers, and CUPE 3902 represents sessional lecturers and teaching assistants.

    “We are so very glad we were able to negotiate $15 an hour rate effective October 1, 2017 with the University of Toronto,” wrote Allan James, President of CUPE 3261, in an email. “We need a living wage, but $15 was a start. We don’t understand how anyone can afford to work in Toronto at this rate of pay.”

    “It looks like [Ford] is listening to the Chamber of Commerce instead of trying to protect working people in Ontario,” James continued. “University of Toronto is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and should be advocating for equal pay for equal work.”

    Members of CUPE 3902 also criticized the university’s membership in the OCC.

    “As a [member] of the Chamber of Commerce, The University of Toronto is partially responsible for the lobbying of Big Business which led to this repeal,” read an email statement from Jess Taylor, Chair of CUPE 3902.

    “As a leader in research, The University of Toronto should know gains for workers improve the economy, the city, and its culture. As an employer, The University of Toronto should protect its workers and should treat the people who are educating students with respect and dignity.”

    “This is a grave disappointment,” Taylor said.

    The university’s next steps

    U of T increased its minimum wage to $15 in January to coincide with the anticipated raise mandated by Bill 148.

    “Earlier this year, the University took a leadership role on this issue and increased the minimum rate of pay for most non-union casual employees to $15 an hour,” said Elizabeth Church, a U of T spokesperson. “The $15-an-hour wage is consistent with the rates of our unionized casual staff.”

    The university has no plans to cap its minimum rate of pay.

    Read the Varsity full story

     


  • City News: Protesters disrupt vote on paid sick days, minimum wage freeze

    A final vote on Premier Ford’s plan to repeal two paid sick days and freeze minimum wage is expected to take place at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

    Protestes packed the Queen's Park Gallery to witness Bill 47 vote

    Watch City News full story


  • Toronto Star: Amid protests, Tories pass bill that scales back workers’ rights and freezes minimum wage

    By Sara Mojtehedzadeh

    Legislation rolling back significant labour protections introduced under the previous government has passed at Queen’s Park, meaning workers will no longer have the right to two paid sick days and will not receive a scheduled minimum wage bump to $15 this January.

    Protests disrupted the legislature’s gallery late Tuesday, pushing the vote by a day. Under fire from NDP leader Andrea Horwath Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said the “most needy people in society” told him they had been laid off because of the previous’ government’s “job-killing” labour legislation.

    “It discouraged companies from all over the world to come to Ontario and open a business because of Bill 148. It was the worst job-killing bill. It was the worst bill for people, the most vulnerable people in society to get a hand up,” he said.

    According to the latest Statistics Canada data, employment in Ontario has increased by 1.2 per cent since last October due to a growth in full-time jobs. At 5.6 per cent, Ontario’s unemployment rate is lower than the Canadian rate of 5.8 per cent.

    Bill 47 will repeal the bulk of recent updates to Ontario’s workplace standards, including temporary and part-time workers’ right to be paid the same as a full-time, permanent employee for doing the same job.

    Workers will no longer be entitled to two paid sick days and eight unpaid emergency leave days. Instead, they will get three sick days, three personal days and two bereavement days — all of which will be unpaid.

    The minimum wage will also be frozen at $14 until 2020, when increases will become tied to inflation.

    Debating the bill Tuesday evening, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Todd Smith said the previous government’s workplace legislation, Bill 148, “didn’t understand the hopes and dreams that go into building a small business.”

    “We have no choice but to be competitive. You don’t get to opt out of the global economy,” he said.

    NDP Labour critic Jamie West (Sudbury) blasted the Tories’ new labour bill as an attack on workers’ fundamental rights.

    “The government wants you to work sick. The government wants you to struggle with two or three precarious jobs. The government wants you to spend less time with your family,” he said.

    “This is a government that wants to make it harder for good businesses to compete with bottom feeder businesses” he added. “Legislation is written for the worst employers.”

    Labour minister Laurie Scott lauded MPPs who had “listened to the needs of businesses” in their ridings and said Bill 148 had created “staggering job losses.”

    “In a prosperous society, people are free to choose their work arrangements,” she added.

    Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said the province needed “a more balanced approach to wage and labour laws, an approach that puts people first.”

    “But instead of conducting consultations across the province, the government held one day of public hearings for people to come in and talk about this issue,” he added.

    The now-repealed Bill 148 was the product of two years of public consultations and research led by two independent experts.

    Protesters chanting in favour of a $15 minimum wage were handcuffed and escorted out of the Queen’s Park gallery on Tuesday.

    Ontario Federation of Labour president Chris Buckley said the government’s bill “ignores the voices of the people who will be most affected by these laws — women workers, racialized workers, Indigenous workers and workers with a disability.”

    “Now, it will be much easier for unscrupulous employers to take advantage of their employees. I say shame on this government for the damage it has done to Ontario workers.”

    “To cut wages, to cut sick days, and to make it easier to fire workers who are already in precarious situations is cruel and callous in the extreme,” added Pam Frache of the Fight for $15 and Fairness movement.

    On Tuesday, the Star reported that a group of advocates, including an emergency room physician, were told by Health Minister Christine Elliott that she had not been consulted on the health impacts of cutting paid sick days.

    “I think it was some confusion when I had the meeting … there’s a difference between being consulted and drafting the bill,” said Elliott at Queen’s Park.

    “I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that I didn’t draft the bill because it’s a labour bill, not a health bill. But was I consulted about the bill? Of course I was. We make decisions as a team. Of course I was consulted on all provisions of the bill and I’m very supportive of all of the provisions of the bill.”

    She said the province’s decision to give workers unpaid days off — losing the current two paid sick days — “is the most fair balance” between making sure that employees get the time that they need, as well as for employers to be able to conduct their business.

    Advocates worry the loss of paid sick days will result in more people coming to work sick if it means losing a day’s pay. A 2010 World Health Organization report found that “gaps in paid sick leave result in severe impacts on public health and the economy” and a study from the American Journal of Public Health found that the absence of paid sick days in the U.S. resulted in 5 million more flu cases among the general population.

    Smith said number of people who took a sick day after the Superbowl “exploded” as a result of Bill 148.

    Read the Toronto Star full story

     


  • published Bay Today: Minimum wage protest moves downtown in Media 2018-11-24 11:17:46 -0500

    Bay Today: Minimum wage protest moves downtown

    By Chris Dawson

    'If Victor Fedeli will not protect the rights of workers, then who will?'

    More than 30 protestors gathered outside the Chamber of Commerce in downtown North Bay late Tuesday afternoon.

    It’s the second of a handful of protests that have been coordinated by the group Nipissing Decent Work, which is protesting the province’s proposed Bill 47, which is set to repeal a large part of Bill 148, which was passed into law just under a year ago by the former provincial Liberal government.  

    Bill 47 would freeze the minimum wage at $14 per hour along with eliminating two paid sick days.    

    The group which held a similar event last week along the bypass, chose to move to the front of the local chamber due to its recent support for Bill 47, which has been posted on the chamber website.   

    “We know the chamber of commerce’s across Ontario do great things for communities but right now they are on the wrong side of the political economy,” stated event organizer Jared Hunt.   

    “They are getting it wrong and we are here to say to everybody that  the information they are spreading is not correct.”

    Hunt has also targeted MPP Vic Fedeli for his support for the Bill 47.

    “If Victor Fedeli will not protect the rights of workers, then who will,” stated organizer Jared Hunt.

    “Why is he siding with the lies and misinformation of Doug Ford and the Chambers of Commerce, when we know the job numbers in Ontario are promising, even with the $14 as minimum wage?” 

    Fedeli, replied to the protest through a series of tweets on Tuesday evening.

    “Critics are also saying that the Act, ‘doesn’t let families invest in the lives of their children.’ The opposite is true. Nourishing a minimum wage economy is a failed policy that gives up on our young people and apprentices,” Fedeli stated through his Twitter feed.

    Hunt says the protests are all about timing.

    “Bill 47 is still getting debated so this is important, we want to send that message but these crowds are getting bigger,” stated Hunt. 

    “We are getting more skills, we are learning more tools to organize and to be people power so this is also about that.”

    Read the Bay Today full story


  • York Region: Fight for $15 and Fairness comes to Richmond Hill PC MPP’s office

    By Sheila Wang

    Residents call for Ontario to keep $15 minimum wage and workers protection laws

    The message was loud and clear: “Hands off workers’ rights.”

    Demonstrators gathered in front of the office building of Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill PC MPP Michael Parsa’s office Monday evening to call for the province to reverse its recent decision of freezing minimum wage and cutting paid sick days.

    It was part of the provincial movement of Fight $15 and Fairness - a prominent provincewide labour rights advocacy group – that has strongly opposed Ontario’s sweeping labour reform bill.

    The rally in Richmond Hill was only a start, McLean said, noting that they were going to rally at all MPPs’ office around York Region to have their voices heard.

    McLean said they chose Parsa’s office first because of his important role as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, which “should put him in a position to understand the true benefits of a $15/hr minimum wage.”

    On Oct. 23, the Ontario government tabled Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act that would repeal much of the changes made by the previous government under Bill 148, which was set to start January 2019.

    The main amendments include freezing minimum wage at $14 until 2020 and cuts to paid sick days.

    “They say that this government is for the people. Well, explain to me how they’re for me,” said Christine Ilot, a 45-year-old Richmond Hill resident who co-organized the event on Monday.

    No one knows better what it is like to work on minimum wage than Ilot, who works three different part-time jobs, all paying minimum wages.

    “Just making sure our messages are getting across and clear because most of these MPPs have refused to meet with us personally,” said Jessa McLean, leader of the movement’s York Region chapter.

    “It’s crazy. It’s really hard,” Ilot said.

    She said she still had to ask her mother for help to pay her rent in the summer when her shifts get cut short.

    Even $15 per hour would not be a living wage in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), she said, but it could be a start.

    Expectedly, MPP Parsa did not attend the rally, but Ilot said she would love to meet him in person and ask for an explanation.

    “I would love to have him explain to my face why they stood up and applauded this new bill. To me, it’s just faulted.”

    The demonstrators have gone to Aurora and Newmarket earlier in October and are planning to set up meetings with MPPs around York Region in the coming weeks, McLean said.

    Read the York Region full story


  • City News: Protest against provincial government’s scrapping of labour reforms

    Fight for $15 and Fairness protested the provincial government’s moves to scrap labour reforms outside the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

    Protest against provincial government’s scrapping of labour reforms

    Watch the City News full story


  • BREAKING: Fair labour laws still stand, but our fight intensifies

    Community pressure is working. We just learned that the dangerous legislation that seeks to rollback our new workers' rights, Bill 47, will be sent to Committee for further review.

    Unlike other regressive bills that the Ford government rammed through without committee hearings, they can't get away with doing so now with Bill 47. This is thanks to you and thousands of others, who have been mobilizing in every corner of Ontario on a daily basis. But we can't stop now.

    Click here to join an upcoming event
    or scroll below

    Our communities are outraged that Premier Ford is defending Bill 47, which puts the health and lives of Ontarians at risk. It is shameful that this government wants to take away 2 meagre paid sick days from workers, reduce access to unpaid emergency leave, lower penalties for employers who break the law, and force low-wage workers into poverty.

    What can you do?

    Right now, every day counts. Help us expose the consequences of Bill 47. Watch and share this new video to remind everyone why a $15 minimum wage is a way better deal for the lowest paid workers of Ontario, than Ford's proposed tax cut. The $15 minimum wage scheduled for January 2019 will put almost $2,000 in workers' pocket, while the most people might get from a tax cut is $800. But even that's a stretch since most people making minimum wage earn so little, they already get all their taxes back. 

    new video - $15 minimum wage vs tax cut
    click here to watch on Facebook - click here to watch on Twitter

    Remember, Bill 47 will impose a real dollar cut in the minimum wage and delay $15 at least until 2025. This together with canceling equal pay for equal work for part-time and temp agency workers, will lead to the growth of short-time, precarious jobs with no benefits. Click here to read our backgrounder on Bill 47 and learn more.

    Visit your local MPP

    The coming week, November 5th to 9th is "Constituency Week" - a time when the Ontario Legislative Assembly does not meet and MPPs spend time in their ridings, with their constituents. It's a great time to drop by and make your voice heard!

    Please take 10 minutes to drop by the office of your Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) with a message to let them know you expect them to vote against Bill 47. In fact, you can download and print this paper card, sign it and deliver it to your MPP. Click here to find your MPP

    MPP pledge poster in actionIf you are able to secure a meeting with your MPP, you can download this "Pledge Placard". It's basically a large scale survey to make your MPP's position on Bill 47 visible for all to see, including local media if you're at an event where the media is expected. This survey is designed to be printed on 11" x 17" papers (tabloid size). Bring a large felt pen to add the name of your MPP and check off the box that applies when you ask them to vote against Bill 47. Be sure to take a picture with your completed "Pledge Placard."

    To access more resources - including leaflets, factsheets, "Hands off posters" with the name of your MPP -- click here.

    Ask to make a deputation to the Committee reviewing Bill 47

    Labour Minister Laurie Scott has been saying that Bill 47 came out of a 4-month consultation process. But we ask: consultation with whom? It seems like the only views they're interested in, comes from corporate lobbyists. We need your help to make sure the voices of workers, health providers, students, people of faith, faculty, community leaders, and others come through loud and clear. 

    The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs will hold the hearings that are expected to last for a mere 5 hours on November 15. We need to flood the Committee with requests to make presentations. If you are a person who will be losing your paid sick days, equal pay, fairer scheduling rules, and/or higher wages, we encourage you to make a deputation to the Standing Committee. If you know someone who is affected by Bill 47, you should also ask to depute. Contact the Committee Clerk via email: comm-financeaffairs@ola.org or by phone: 416-325-3526 to request a chance to speak to the Committee. Please call or email right now. We can be sure the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is already mobilizing to stack the committee with big business voices, so please act now.

    Join an upcoming action.

    Join us at an upcoming action to tell the government:#WithdrawBill147! Let's demand every MPP to vote against the bill. More events are coming online every day. Visit the campaign website to see the most up-to-date listing. 

    Friday, November 2nd

    WINDSOR
    Rally at the Chamber of Commerce 

    Friday, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM - 2575 Ouellette Place 
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Saturday, November 3rd

    SAULT STE MARIE
    Bill 47 Emergency Planning Meeting 
    Saturday, 11:00AM to 12:00PM – 415 Pim Street
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Monday, November 5th

    HAMILTON 
    Fight for $15 Action Plan Meeting
    Monday, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM – ATU Local 107 Hall, 1005 King St East
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    TORONTO
    Fight for $15 Activist Mondays
    Monday, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM – 720 Spadina Ave Unit 223
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Letter Writing Party in York-South Weston
    Monday, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM – Weston Village Seniors Centre, 8 John Street
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Tuesday, November 6th 

    BRANTFORD
    Brantford Organizing Meeting
    Tuesday, 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM - Revolution Coffee, 18 Market St
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    TORONTO
    Toronto Wide Organizing Meeting
    Tuesday,  5:30 PM to 8:30 PM – 720 Spadina Avenue Unit 223
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Wednesday, November 7th

    AJAX
    Ajax $15 and Fairness Go station leafleting
    Wednesday, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Ajax GO Station, 100 Westney Rd S
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    KINGSTON
    Decent Work under Ford: A Panel Discussion
    Wednesday, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, B201 Mackintosh-Corry Hall, 68 University Ave
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    TORONTO
    Emergency Phonebanking for $15 and Fairness
    Wednesday, 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM – 720 Spadina Ave Unit 223
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Friday, November 9th 

    TORONTO
    Student Rally for $15 and Fairness
    Friday, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM – Intersection of Yonge and Bloor
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Saturday, November 10th

    AJAX
    Ajax $15 and Fairness Bill 47 Response
    Friday, 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM – Outside Starbucks by 90 Kingston Rd E 
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Monday, November 19th
     


    TORONTO
    Getting to Work: Organizing against Climate and Labour Precarity Panel
    Monday, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM – 720 Spadina Ave Unit 223
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook


  • CTV News: Critics hold rally to reinstate $15 minimum wage

    By Miranda Anthistle

    Critics hold rally to reinstate $15 minimum wage

    Hundreds gathered outside the Ministry of Labour to protest the government's decision to freeze the minimum wage at $14 an hour.

    Watch the CTV News full story

     


  • North Bay Nugget: Workers' rights advocates let down by Fedeli

    By Gord Young

    Workers’ rights advocates demonstrated in North Bay Wednesday against the Progressive Conservative government’s plan to roll back labour reforms.

    Armed with placards, about a dozen people rallied at the base of the Lakeshore Drive overpass near Judge Street, calling on the Doug Ford government to nix legislation tabled this week that will freeze Ontario’s minimum wage at $14 for another two years and do away with many of the other labour reforms introduced by the previous Liberal government.

    “It really makes me pretty upset and incredibly disappointed in our elected MPP Vic Fedeli,” said organizer Jared Hunt, of the government’s Making Ontario Open for Business Act. “People believe he is the kind of person that will truly stand up for the people in our riding and people in need.”

    Hunt said there are many people in Ontario and Nipissing who work low-wage jobs. And he asked who will fight to protect their rights from being “steamrolled” if it’s not Fedeli, who is Ontario’s finance minister.

    He said there’s a disproportionate number of newcomers, women, seniors and those with disabilities who hold low-wage jobs.

    “That’s the real impact on the community,” said Hunt, noting such employment is no longer reserved mostly for students or those wanting entry-level or part-time work.

    He said that’s evident at places like Home Depot and Tim Hortons where there are employees are from all walks of life. Hunt said many low-income earners also have more than one part-time job because full-time work is harder to come by.

    “That’s what Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) was trying to help with,” he said, noting the labour reforms introduced by the former Liberal government were intended to make life better for those workers.

    He said measures such as fair scheduling and sick days were aimed at bringing more balance to the lives of low-income earners who are often consumed on a day-to-day basis by work and the sovereignty of employers.

    “We’re going to continue to apply pressure,” said Hunt, noting the Nipissing Decent Work group and other advocates will be looking to leverage public support and plan to step up their efforts through events and lobbying.

    The Progressive Conservatives say businesses were hurt by the changes brought in by the previous regime and that it plans to link future increases to minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

    “The previous government brought in a tsunami of new burdens and regulations that have imposed significant unnecessary costs on businesses and stifled economic growth,” said Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson as the government detailed its proposed labour legislation.

    Minimum wage increased from $11.60 to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, and was set to rise to $15 an hour next year as a result of the Liberal law. Under the government’s new legislation, it will remain at $14 until October 2020.

    The government’s labour bill, if passed, will also cut two paid personal leave days for workers, bringing their total to eight – three for personal illness, two for bereavement leave and three for family responsibilities.

    The legislation keeps provisions brought in by the Liberals that granted workers up to 10 days of leave if they or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence. It will also maintain regulations that grant Ontario workers three weeks of paid vacation after five years of service.

    But a number of scheduling provisions will be scrapped under the Tory bill, including a minimum of three hours pay in the event a shift is cancelled 48 hours or less before it was scheduled to begin.

    The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce and its provincial counterpart applauded the move Tuesday, maintaining that former Liberal government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act was “too much, too fast.”

    “The compounding labour reforms and unintended consequences came at too high a cost to Ontario’s economy,” stated a release, which also welcomed the dissolution of the Ontario College of Trades and improvements to the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio.

    The college “has become overly focused on enforcement and regulation, limiting its ability to serve the public interest by attracting and training new tradespeople,” said the release.

    Read the North Bay Nugget full story


  • Bay Today: Local group protests province's minimum wage freeze

    By Chris Dawson

    'We are out here in emergency response to the tabled law that the Ford government put out Tuesday afternoon'

    A group of concerned citizens was making noise along Lakeshore Drive during rush hour on Wednesday afternoon.

    They were out along the overpass near Lakeshore and Judge with signs showing their anger over the provincial government's recent move to freeze the minimum wage at $14 an hour for the next two years and eliminate two paid sick days.   

    Jared Hunt from "Nipissing Decent Work" organized the Wednesday event.  

    “We are out here in emergency response to the tabled law that the Ford government put out Tuesday afternoon,” said Hunt.  

    “We are making some noise and if it is not Vic Fedeli who is going to represent the low wage workers in our community, you know that’s our MPP, our elected official, then who will,” Hunt questioned.

    Hunt, who was joined by a group of union workers and concerned citizens for the protest, says this event is part of a series of events they will be holding to protest the minimum wage freeze, which comes only a few months before the federal government moves the minimum wage to $15.   

    “As we speak to more people they start to realize what they have and what is about to be taken away - steamrolled, completely steamrolled - without any consultation whatsoever. Then they are going to start to ask more questions,” said Hunt.

    Hunt believes this rollback legislation takes away some of the most basic protections from workers.   

    “This is an attack on low-income workers, women, people of colour and newcomers who are disproportionately represented in precarious jobs,” said Hunt.  

    Meanwhile, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says the Ontario Government is acting to help create and protect jobs in Ontario by reducing the regulatory burden on Ontario businesses and workers. 

    “Businesses told us that the previous government created a regulatory burden that chased businesses and jobs out of Ontario and we can’t afford to ignore the problem any longer,” said Fedeli. 

    “This legislation is great for job creators and great for any person looking to find work in Ontario. By reducing the red-tape burden we are once again making Ontario one of the best places in the world to invest, and create jobs.  And we believe that anybody who is prepared to work hard deserves a shot at a better job.”

    The Making Ontario Open for Business Act will, if passed by Ontario’s Legislature, replace the previous minimum wage scheme with one that remains at $14 per hour until 2020, at which point it will rise with inflation. 

     The Act will also replace Personal Emergency Leave rules to allow workers to take up to three days for personal illness, two for bereavement and three for family responsibilities while maintaining leave provisions for victims of domestic or sexual violence. 

    Read the Bay Today full story


  • Kitchener Today: Rally held to protest repeal of Bill 148

    The Ford government announced earlier this week it will cap the minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020

    The Ford government is scrapping Bill 148, and a rally was held in Waterloo to voice opposition to the move.

    Those who were in attendance on Wednesday afternoon say they aren't just worried about the province freezing the minimum wage.

    One of those at the rally was Steve Dick, OPSEU Local 258 president, who says there are more reasons than the freeze to keep Bill 148.

    "I think minimum wage is one of the smallest. I think the personal entitlement leave days is a huge thing for people ... people that need time off for family, for being sick, for childcare ... they now can't take it and if they do they are going to get penalized." Dick told 570 NEWS.

    Jim Stewart with the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, who was also at the rally, says we can expect to see louder and more frequent rallies in the future.

    KitchenerToday.com has also learned over 150 people from the area attended Wednesday's rally at Queen's Park in Toronto.

    Ontario will cap the province's minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020 as part of a rollback of labour reforms introduced by the previous Liberal government.

    The Progressive Conservatives say businesses were hurt by the changes brought in by the previous regime.

    Ontario's minimum wage increased from $11.60 to $14 an hour on January 1, and was set to rise to $15 an hour next year as a result of the Liberal law.

    with files from Ben Eppel and The Canadian Press

    Read the Kitchener Today full story


  • The Silhouette: Mac fights back against expected minimum wage freeze

    By Ryan Tse

    Fight for $15 and Fairness has been voicing opposition to the provincial government’s plan to scrap Bill 148

    On Oct. 23, the provincial government officially scrapped Bill 148, which had called for a rise in minimum wage to $15 in 2019, in addition to a number of protections for workers. Premier Doug Ford claims that Bill 148 was “too much, too fast” and a “job killer.”

    The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has opposed the labour reforms and further minimum wage hikes, arguing that the recently instituted higher minimum wage has hurt small businesses and the overall economy. However, the government did say that the minimum wage will stay at $14 an hour for 33 months.

    Fight for $15 and Fairness, a prominent province-wide labour rights advocacy group, has strongly opposed this announcement. The organization’s McMaster chapter has been active in raising awareness about the current situation.

    Fight for $15 and Fairness McMaster organizer Chloe Rockarts said that having a relatively high minimum wage has been beneficial both for students and for university workers such as food staff.

    Rockarts also stressed that if the bill is scrapped, there will be more consequences beyond just affecting minimum wage workers, citing the “equal pay for equal work” principle and paid sick day provisions as examples.

    “For those that are not necessarily in those workplaces where people are getting paid minimum wage do not see it directly affecting them, but what we would like to do is focus less on the ‘15’ aspect and more on the fairness,” said Rockarts.

    McMaster labour studies professor Stephanie Ross echoed many of the same concerns, adding that the minimum wage increase has resulted in an improved economy.

    “We see job growth in those provinces that increased their minimum wage,” said Ross. “The negative effects of repealing Bill 148 will be serious for Mac students, as people most likely to work in minimum wage jobs and who are struggling to make and save money for tuition and living expenses.”

    To push back against the minimum wage freeze, Fight for 15 McMaster held a rally at Jackson Square as part of a province-wide “day of action” to support Bill 148 and the scheduled wage increase. The next day, they held a bake sale to promote discussion on the topic.

    “We are just trying to raise awareness around all of these things right now,” said Rockarts. “Generally, a lot of the campaign work that we do is focused on outreach.”

    Beyond outreach, they are planning on contacting local MPPs to urge them to support the bill.  

    The bill was planned to be fully implemented in 2019. In January 2019, certain scheduling protections for employees along with the minimum wage increase were scheduled to come into effect.

    Despite the sealed fate of Bill 148, Rockarts is feeling optimistic about Fight for 15 McMaster’s campaign this year so far.

    “This is our third year and we are only getting bigger and doing more,” said Rockarts, who notes that the group has seen increased engagement since the implementation of Bill 148 and the election of Doug Ford.

    “Because it has been in the news so much, and because people are being directly affected at work, people are way more interested and way more willing to engage,” said Rockarts.

    While the provincial government goes forward with their plan to cut Bill 148, it remains increasingly clear that they face immense opposition.  

    Read The Silhouette full story


  • Waterloo Chronicle: Labour council, concerned citizens rally in protest of Ontario's repeal of Bill 148 at Waterloo Square

    By Namish Modi

    Following the Ontario government’s repeal of Bill 148 on Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Waterloo Regional Labour Council organized a quick rally to protest the dramatic changes to worker's rights. 

    And on a frigid Wednesday afternoon at Waterloo Town Square, members of the union along with concerned citizens gathered at Waterloo Square sending the message: “Hands off workers rights.”

    Kelly Dick, who works at the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, organized the rally, which was one of many across Ontario on Wednesday as citizens fight for “$15 and fairness.”

    “It’ a direct attack on working people in this province,” said Dick, passionately.

    Dick, who also works at Loblaws, rallied the 35 to 40 supporters in attendance with a speech in front of the shops at Waterloo Town Square and was “elated” with the turnout.

    “This affects every single person, in this community, in this province, everywhere, everywhere, everybody,” said Dick, following the rally. "I don’t care how much you make, I don’t care where you live, this affects every single person in this province, and everybody needs to get involved in this. We need to stop this from happening, it is absolutely an atrocity.”

    Among the changes to the bill include freezing wages at $14, as opposed to the planned increase to $15, as well as other changes to the Liberal government’s Fair Workplaces and Betters Jobs Act.

    Dick, who has a “very vested” interest in the bill, also is a part of the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Labour Congress.

    There will also be changes to the personal-leave rule for workplaces instituted by former premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals. The current rules, workers are allowed to take 10 days while two of them are paid. Under Doug Ford’s plan, workers would receive eight emergency days; two for bereavement, three for family responsibilities, and three for illness.

    “(He’s) not only telling you now, as workers in Ontario, you can have eight days. But he’s dictated what you can use those days for,” said Dick. “Disgusting. Why should anyone be allowed to tell us what we’re using our personal emergency leave days for?”

    “Doug’s campaign slogan was for the people, I’m not sure what people he’s for. I can tell you one thing, it’s not certainly the people standing here today, it’s certainly not your average Ontarian, it’s certainly not anybody whose not making a six or seven-figure income, it’s certainly is not somebody that does not own a company or a business. I don’t understand why one government thinks that it needs to rip and shred everything that another government did, it just didn’t make any sense to me. It’s a waste of money, it blows money, and not everything that the other government did was bad, honestly.”

    Catherine Campbell, a mother of four in K-W specifically asked to be on record, was a passionate advocate against the PC government’s repeal.

    “I kept saying to myself before I left my house, Doug Ford is evil, even though I already told it to myself,  I just said he’s an evil, he’s an evil man, how dare he do this to all these people,” said Campbell, who is also belongs Fair Votes Canada, a nonprofit citizen movement for electoral reform.

    Campbell says her daughter, who works in a restaurant, sees plenty of her co-workers come into work ill, and this will only increase due to Ford’s cutbacks.

    A representative from Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife’s office was present at the rally while incoming Ward 5 Coun. Jen Vasic also attended.

    Dick explained that if the petition in present at the rally gets 50 signed petition sheets, it will be taken to the local PC MPP's, who can read it out in the Ontario legislature. 

    Read the Waterloo Chronicle full story


  • Ottawa Citizen: Rallies against PCs' repeal of Bill 148 begin

    By Vito Pilieci

    About 50 people gathered in front of the downtown offices of the Ottawa Board of Trade over the noon hour Wednesday to rally against the province’s repeal of parts of Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

    The group consisted primarily of activists and labour union representative, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Unifor and the United Steelworkers, among others.

    They carried signs demanding “$15 an hour now, no more poverty wages” and joined in chants demanding better rights for low-wage workers in response to proposed labour law, introduced by the Progressive Conservative government on Tuesday afternoon, that freezes the minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020 as part of a repeal of labour reforms passed into law by the previous Liberal government shortly before the spring election.

    The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148) introduced changes to the minimum wage bringing it up to $14 per hour with an increase later to $15 an hour, vacation entitlements, ensured employers were offering two paid sick days annually, enforced equal pay for part-time and full-time employees and changed rules for shift workers and on-call workers to give more notice before schedules could be altered.

    The changes, which have been panned by many businesses across the province as being too costly or difficult to implement, have been touted as a victory by low-income and blue-collar workers in Ontario, according to Karen Cocq, who is with the lobby group Fight for $15 and Fairness and was one of the organizers of Wednesday’s protest.

    She said the government’s actions are not supported by average Ontarians.

    “This is the opposite of what the (Doug) Ford government said it was going to do,” said Cocq, while reminding the crowd of the premier’s election promise to put more money in the pockets of Ontarians. “They want to roll back all of the gains we have made through the years against low wages and precarious work.”

    The group chose to hold its protest in front of the Ottawa Board of Trade at 328 Somerset St. West because those in attendance believe that an agenda set by “business elites” has helped to push the government to target minimum wage and worker legislation.

    Cocq called out several members of the newly elected PC government, including Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod and Ottawa-West MPP Jeremy Roberts for playing a role in rolling back the legislation.

    “We have one job. It is to make the Conservative government pay for what it has done,” Cocq said Wednesday. “We have to make sure they pay a political price. They’ve chose the side of business elites.”

    The downtown gathering Wednesday was only the first of many rallies, which are being called “Emergency Action” protests, that are being planned across the province in the coming days. Several labour activists and lobby groups plan to hold their own demonstrations to oppose the Conservative government’s plan to roll back parts of Bill 148.

    Government House Leader Todd Smith said the incidents — including death threats against Ford — were an attempt to bully and intimidate the government and would not be tolerated.

    “What we want is to see … some of these other radical groups acknowledge the fact that a line has been crossed here,” Smith said. “I believe in democratic and peaceful protest and debate but we will not tolerate vandalism, intimidation or bullying. … We don’t know who did this, we are just saying everyone should say that that’s not acceptable.”

    Read the Otawa Citizen full story


  • Doug Ford day of shame - join us for emergency actions

    The Doug Ford government broke their promise to the people of Ontario today by standing with the corporate lobbyists and announcing significant rollbacks to our new labour laws.

    JOIN AN EMERGENCY ACTION 
    click to find one near you

    Just a few hours ago the Conservative government introduced legislation to:
     - freeze the minimum wage at $14 for the next 2 years, and cancel the scheduled January 1 increase to $15 
     - eliminate two paid sick days for all workers
     - cancel fair scheduling rules
     - take away the right to equal pay for equal work
    and so much more.

    Millions believed Doug Ford when he promised to govern FOR THE PEOPLE. Today, his lies have been exposed. Clearly, he is more interested in looking out for his deep pocketed CEO friends, than the needs of Ontario workers. 

    Let's be clear, this rollback legislation seeks to take away the MOST BASIC protections from workers who need them desperately. This is an attack on low-income workers, women, people of color and newcomers who are disproportionately represented in precarious jobs.

    We need your help to send a clear message to the Doug Ford government that their betrayal to millions of workers in Ontario will not go unnoticed. We must respond swiftly.

    Starting tomorrow we are rolling out emergency actions across Ontario. Can we count on your participation? Scroll below to find an action near you, and keep checking www.15andfairness.org/events to see new events that are being announced.

    Don't see an event near you? Please spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends and co-workers. If you haven't already, take a moment right now to email Premier Ford by clicking here.

    Thanks to your support, last week we organized the decade's largest coordinated day of action on workers' rights in Ontario. From faith leaders to teachers, health providers to labour activists, anti-poverty groups to low-wage workers -- our movement represents the majority of Ontarians, the 66% who support decent work. Let's continue organizing this majority to let elected officials know there will be real consequences to attacking our communities.

    Wednesday, October 24

    LONDON
    London Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM - London Chamber of Commerce, 244 Pall Mall St
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    NORTH BAY
    North Bay Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 4:00 – 5:00 PM – Intersection of Judge Street and Lakeshore Street 
    Please share on Facebook 

    OAKVILLE
    Oakville Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, Oakville GO Bus station, 214 Cross Ave
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    OTTAWA
    Ottawa Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM - Ottawa Board of Trade, 328 Somerset St
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    TORONTO
    Toronto Emergency Action at the Ministry of Labour
    Wednesday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Ministry of Labour, 400 University Ave
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    WATERLOO
    Waterloo Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 4:00 PM - Waterloo Square, 75 King St South
    Please share on Facebook

    WHITBY
    Durham Emergency Action
    Wednesday, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM - MPP Lorne Coe Office, 114 Dundas St E
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Thursday, October 25

    PEEL
    Peel Emergency Rally
    Thursday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM, Corner of Hurontario St and Steeles Ave
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    KINGSTON
    Kingston Emergency Rally

    Thursday, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Tim Hortons, 681 Princess St
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    SCARBOROUGH
    Scarborough Emergency Action
    Thursday, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM, ACCES Employment (Temp agency), 2100 Ellesmere Road, Suite 250 -- (Markham Rd. and Ellesmere Rd. intersection)
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook

    Monday, October 29

    HAMILTON
    Hamilton Emergency Meeting
    Monday, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St
    Please RSVP or share on Facebook


  • Huff Post: Doug Ford Is Wrong: The Minimum Wage Hike Hasn't Killed Businesses

    By Jerry Dias

    Ford should explain where he's getting his numbers before he attacks a piece of legislation that can make a real difference in workers' lives.

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford needs to understand that before he goes telling the Ontario Legislature, as he was quoted in online publication Queen's Park Todayas saying, that the bill has caused businesses to leave Ontario "in droves."

    Statistics Canada tracks the number of incorporated businesses in Ontario and across the country, but the most recent data is only for 2016, so Ford can't be using official statistics to back up his assertion.

    Ford should explain where he's getting his numbers before he attacks a piece of legislation that can make a real difference in workers' lives.

    Think about it: people with good jobs have more money to spend, and the confidence to spend that money.

    When people spend their earnings, it spurs the economy. Every dollar workers earn becomes revenue for businesses in their community, which leads to those businesses needing to hire more workers.

    People in precarious jobs often have little money to spend, and in any case can be leery of doing so in in case things go bad and their hours are cut or they lose their job.

    If people can't spend, the economy can't grow. It's just common sense. Precarious jobs create a precarious economy.

    Addressing all this was the driving force behind Ontario's Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act of 2017, and Unifor's exhaustive submission as the bill was being drafted.

    The bill raised the minimum wage, allowed for two paid days of sick leave a year, provisions to ensure predictable shift schedules, three weeks' vacation after five years, sexual and domestic violence leave, and more.

    Now the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, whose members are the same businesses that benefit most when workers in their community have more money to spend, is calling on the Ford government to repeal Bill 148.

    Even before the bill came into effect, the Chamber commissioned an apocalyptic report claiming that Bill 148 would cost the province 185,000 jobs.

    In my experience, only a bad trade deal can cause that kind of damage.

    While Ford's claim that businesses are leaving in droves can't be backed up with verifiable statistics, we do know that in the seven months after the minimum wage came into effect, unemployment in Ontario fell from 5.6 to 5.4 per cent as the province added 80,000 jobs, one of the best job creation rates in the country.

    I have to ask, if companies are leaving, who is hiring all these workers?

    The job growth we have seen is the exact opposite of what the chamber predicted. A dip in the notoriously volatile employment rate in August doesn't change the longer-term growth trend since the minimum wage was raised at the start of the year. The fact is, Bill 148 has not been the job killer the Chamber of Commerce claimed.

    Disturbingly, the Ford government seems open to the Chamber's call to repeal Bill 148, with Ford himself making a surprise announcement in the Legislature that his government would get rid the bill.

    Such a move would return the province to having labour laws dating back to the 1970s, when jobs were much more likely be permanent and full-time, and could support a family, including fringe benefits and a pension that guaranteed retirement security.

    Things look rather different today. In Hamilton, for instance, only 44 per cent of millennials have been able to find full-time, permanent jobs in a city that was once a major centre of manufacturing in this country, according to a recent report. Disturbingly, 38 per cent of those polled by McMaster University and the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario said they expect to be worse off than their parents.

    Precarious jobs are characterized by lower pay, little, if anything, in the way of benefits or a pension, and heightened insecurity. People in jobs like that don't tend to spend. They can't.

    We need more provinces to pass legislation such as Bill 148, so we can address the dire future facing our young people. Instead, we face the prospect of losing what gains have been made.

    Rather than calling for the bill to be repealed, the Chamber of Commerce should rescind its own misguided report and let its members go about the business of reaping the rewards of having consumers in their communities with more money in their pockets.

    Jerry Dias, National President, Unifor

    Read the Huff Post full story