It’s time for the Liberal government to focus on improving working conditions for all workers rather than helping their friends and donors, said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, standing in solidarity with dozens of community and labour organizations at a press conference held in advance of Thursday’s provincial budget.

“This government has done a lot of talking about growing inequality and the increase in temporary and low-wage jobs but has done nothing but commission the Changing Workplace Review and stall on releasing its report,” said Hahn. “What workers need is action. The government must make some foundational changes to our labour laws that would improve the lives of all working people and reverse the growing trend of inequality.”

Along with taking immediate steps to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Hahn outlined four changes to the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act that would make real improvements in the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario who are struggling to make ends meet.

Changes needed to the Labour Relations Act:

  1. Make it easier for workers to join a union by implementing Card Based Certification.
  2. Stop employers from using stall tactics by mandating First Contract Arbitration.
  3. Stop allowing employers to undermine workers by bringing back Anti-Scab Legislation.
  4. Create consistency of service and care by implementing Successor Rights for workers stuck in a revolving door of competitive bidding.

Changes needed to the Employment Standards Act:

  1. Expand the definition of employees to ensure contract and temp employees are entitled to the same wages, rights and benefits as their colleagues.
  2. Mandate paid sick time for all employees.
  3. Extend just cause protection to all workers so no one can be fired without a legitimate reason.
  4. Extend Employment Standards protection to include temporary and agricultural workers, including workers assigned through Temporary Help Agencies and Temporary Foreign Workers.

“These days a few people are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer. Costs are going up, wages have virtually flat-lined and fewer and fewer people can even find good, full-time work. This spells long-term disaster for our society if we don’t act now,” said Hahn. “The number one way we can rebalance our economy and improve the lives of all workers is to make it easier for them to join a union. The government could make that happen today, if only they had the will.”

“So many of the people stuck in low-wage, part-time and temporary jobs are women,” said Hahn. “Does this Premier really want to go down in history as someone who could have made their lives better but chose to ignore them instead?”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.