Community and labour groups urge Premier Ford to stand up to corporate lobby groups
by protecting $15 minimum wage
Toronto, Sept. 28, 2018 - Representatives from the $15 and Fairness movement, including
Ontario's Fight for $15 & Fairness, the Ontario Federation of Labour, a doctor,
and an Imam from a Mosque in Etobicoke held a press conference at Queen's Park today
to call on the government to protect the $15 minimum wage and fair scheduling rules
coming in on January 1, 2019.
Ontario is only thirteen weeks away from giving nearly two-million workers a much-anticipated
raise to $15, closely following Alberta where $15 is set to come into effect on
October 1. Across Canada, support for a $15 minimum wage is on the rise, with active
Fight for $15 campaigns being led in almost every province, from Quebec to Manitoba,
British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
In fact, an Angus Reid poll released in August showed that over 66 per cent of Canadians
support a $15 minimum wage. A similar percentage of Ontario small business owners
– 62 per cent – also believe the minimum wage should be at least $15 an hour, according
to a Campaign Research poll.
Despite this majority support, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been calling
on Premier Doug Ford to fully repeal Bill 148; legislation that made Ontario the
first jurisdiction in Canada to provide two paid sick days to all workers, unpaid
emergency leave, in addition to fairer scheduling laws and a $15 minimum wage taking
effect January 1, 2019.
Deena Ladd of the Workers' Action Centre, a non-profit that operates a confidential
"bad boss" hotline for workers who need help, argued repealing the bill would be
a grave mistake.
"After nearly 5 years of consultation, committee review and hearings, the Ontario
government brought in Bill 148 last year to deal with the massive deterioration
of wages and working conditions in this province," said Workers' Action Centre Coordinator
Deena Ladd. "The Ministry of Labour itself found, during proactive investigations,
that three-quarters of employers who break the law are repeat offenders. Clearly
what is needed here is stronger enforcement, not the rollback of new labour laws
that offer modest protections."
"It is shameful that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling on the government
to eliminate every single step forward we have made in the last year, steps toward
decent work and making it easier to join a union," said Ontario Federation of Labour
President Chris Buckley. "They even want to eliminate the unpaid emergency leave
that prevents workers from losing their job if they have to miss work to care for
a sick child. It makes a person ill just thinking about what eliminating this provision
would mean for a single parent."
Christine, a minimum wage earner, spoke at the press conference to ask the government
to stand up for people just like her instead of giving into corporate demands.
"Working for minimum wage is a struggle," she said. "I'm a college graduate. I'm
in my mid-40s. I live alone. I have the same bills most families do, and I struggle
to pay them. That's with four jobs across the GTA. All my jobs are minimum wage.
Last year I earned around $22,000. You can't live in Toronto on that. You can't
live anywhere in Ontario on that. You just can't. I'd like to say that's after taxes,
but the truth is I don't earn enough to pay taxes. Two-thirds of minimum wage earners
Negative predictions from right-wing think-tanks like the Fraser Institute about
the higher minimum wage have proven false. Ontario's job numbers have been outperforming
the rest of the country. According to the August Labour Force Survey by Statistics
Canada, Ontario's average weekly hours of work increased from 36.3% in August 2017
to 36.5% in August 2018 – better than the national average. In fact, total hours
worked in Ontario rose by 3.3 per cent from January to August, after Bill 148 came
The incoming minimum wage increase is only one of the many aspects of Bill 148 that
the broad coalition of community and labour advocates are speaking out for.
"Ensuring paid sick days is not just an improvement to labour standards, but also
a major public health advance," explained Dr. Edward Xie. "The flu season begins
next week, and for the first time ever in Ontario, every worker will have the right
to paid leave if they are sick. Of course, only two of the ten personal emergency
days are paid, so for many Ontarians, this is still a financial struggle. We need
to be providing more paid sick days, not penalizing workers for getting sick, as
everyone eventually does."
The Fight for $15 and Fairness is a growing movement of workers committed to fighting
for decent work, and includes students, faculty, labour groups, health providers,
anti-poverty activists and faith leaders. To learn more, visit:
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in
Ontario. For information, visit
www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.