The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario is calling the passing of three pieces of legislation yesterday by the Ford Conservatives an all-out attack on Ontarians that they will oppose.
The province passed Bill 195, which extends emergency orders despite the legislation itself declaring the end of the state of emergency. According to CUPE Ontario, the government should have negotiated solutions with workers and their unions, instead of issuing orders which allow employers to override workplace rights.
“Front-line workers have first-hand knowledge about dealing with this crisis,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, highlighting the union’s members in health care, social services, and municipalities who are impacted by the new law. “Respectful negotiation, not the blunt instrument of emergency orders, is how we should have always dealt with the challenges of this crisis.”
The orders that impact workplaces and override sections of public sector collective agreements will give management the ability to cancel scheduled vacations and the right to seniority-based layoff; eliminate rights concerning redeployment, amending work assignments, shift schedules; and, in some cases, will suspend the grievance process.
“This new law will continue powers granted under the state of emergency that allow employers to force shift changes with no notice even when workers don’t have childcare lined up,” added Hahn. “These kinds of powers are unheard of, unprecedented and absolutely unacceptable in a modern democracy. This is absolutely a disrespectful and unnecessary attack on workers this government continues to call heroes.”
Additionally, the government passed Bill 197, omnibus legislation which sides with big developers; scraps environmental protections; and does not require Directors of Education to be educators, leaving room for fiscal managers who will craft an education system at the expense of equity-seekers, according to the union. The government also passed Bill 184 which will now roll back protections for tenants facing eviction.
“People are worried about rent and mortgages, about putting food on the table, and about securing their quality of life in the future,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “Rather than supporting Ontarians with comprehensive supports, this government has made the political decision to make it easier to evict struggling renters, weaken public education, and ignore the voices of front-line workers.”
“This isn’t over. We’re committed to mobilizing members and communities to apply political pressure to have worker rights restored immediately,” said Hahn.