Labour laws changes are good politics - and (mostly) good policy, too

Randall Padilla
June 1, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced that Ontario's minimum wage will rise to the $15 per hour mark by January 2019, phased in with a $14-per-hour increase at the start of 2018.

The Changing Workplaces review concluded that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs, among other factors, have left approximately one-third of Ontario's 6.6 million workers vulnerable.

Wynne would not confirm if her government is planning to raise the minimum wage - which is now $11.40 an hour and adjusted for inflation - to $15, as labour groups have been calling for.

Tuesday's announcement includes a series of other workplace changes, including part-time workers getting equal pay for doing work equal to full-time staff, and an increase in the minimum vacation entitlement.

The plan also changes union rules, making it easier for temporary workers, building services workers, as well as home and community care workers, to unionize.

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition, formed in response to the proposed labour law changes, warned the changes will lead to "unintended consequences, including job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship".

Wynne is also hiking employer costs by giving workers more mandatory vacation time and two new paid sick days.

It will rise from $11.40 now to $11.60 in October.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses says the minimum wage hike will broadside small business owners, who will have to cut hours and jobs to cope.

The OFL's campaign takes on issues of inequality in the workforce, and coincides with the province's "Changing Workplaces Review".

Lower minimum wages for students under 18 and liquor servers will also rise during the same time frame, but those exemptions to the minimum wage will not be eliminated, as the report had recommended.

The provincial Liberal government, which is lagging in polls ahead of an election next year, plans to phase in the increase from the current C$11.40 an hour.

"I can remember when minimum wage was $8 or $9 an hour", says Sean McKenny, the President of the Ottawa and District Labor Council, "and we heard the same argument from the same businesses, that if minimum wage went up 20 cents an hour, they'd have to close the doors".

"We're very pleased that the government has re-affirmed a worker's right to join a union through card-based certification in certain sectors", said Rizvi.

Right now, there is no guaranteed paid leave for those coping with a family emergency.

"Increasing the minimum wage will make a world of difference in millions of lives", Premier Wynne said today.

"Today's announcement highlights the importance of unions remaining actively engaged in the political process, as numerous reforms announced today are changes that UFCW has always been advocating for", says Shawn Haggerty, President of the UFCW Canada Ontario Provincial Council. "After all, we share the same economic space", Quebec's premier said Tuesday.

She's spending our money like a drunken sailor to win that election, although, as several of our readers have pointed out, that's an insult to drunken sailors because they spend their own money.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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