Economy at Work Winter 2019CUPE members have been at the forefront of advocating for legislation that protects all workers across Canada. While we are resisting rollbacks in Ontario, we are welcoming long overdue progress in Alberta and British Columbia.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has cancelled a minimum wage hike and scrapped labour legislation that protected the most vulnerable and precarious workers. CUPE Ontario is mobilizing with community allies against the move, calling the government out for its anti-worker, anti-union agenda. The changes will hurt all workers and their families, especially those who don’t belong to a union.

Our fight to protect these much-needed gains is happening in the streets - and at bargaining tables. CUPE locals can identify bargaining priorities that protect gains for our members even if an unfriendly government reverses them.

Here are just some of the ways Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, will gut Ontario labour protections. They’re contrasted with recent changes that show what’s possible when governments respect workers.

Minimum wage:

  • Instead of rising to $15 an hour, Ontario’s minimum wage will be frozen until October 1, 2020, at $14 for adult workers, $13.15 for students, and $12.20 for liquor servers.
  • Alberta’s minimum wage rose to $15 an hour on October 1, 2018, and is the same for adults, liquor servers and students.
  • BC has accepted the recommendations of the BC Fair Wages Commission and is increasing BC’s minimum wage in stages to $15.20 by June 2021.

Union certification and security:

  • Bill 47 makes it harder for workers to unionize. It eliminates card-based certification for workers in home care and community services, temporary help agencies and the building services industry (which includes food, cleaning, and security services). Most workers return to a two-stage process where 40 per cent of workers must sign cards before a vote is held. The Conservatives will also strip home care and other community workers of their successor rights, forcing them to reapply for their jobs if the contractor they work for changes.
  • In Alberta, card-based certification is allowed where more than 65 per cent of workers in the proposed bargaining unit have signed union membership cards.
  • The BC government is scrapping regressive Liberal-era legislation that enabled mass privatization and the layoff of thousands of health care workers. The changes will end contract-flipping and guarantee successor rights, ensuring health care workers, including our members in the Hospital Employees’ Union, have union and job security.

Personal and family sick leave:

  • Bill 47 eliminates 10 personal emergency leave days, two of which were paid. Ontario workers will only have access to unpaid leave - three days for personal illness, two days for bereavement and three days for family responsibilities.
  • Alberta workers have recently gained access to five days of unpaid personal and family responsibility leave and three days of unpaid bereavement leave.

One change the Ontario Conservatives aren’t scrapping is the new 10 days of domestic violence leave, where the first five days are paid. Alberta has introduced 10 days of unpaid leave.