The Ontario government introduced sweeping labour reform that will make it the second province to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 2019, following the lead of Alberta.
The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, was tabled on June 1, the last day of the Ontario session. If passed, the act will also allow for job-protected paid sick days; fairer rules around scheduling; equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal workers; card check certification in three sectors dominated by precarious work; and much more.
The introduction of the legislation is the result of the two-year long Changing Workplaces Review, which was the first ever independent review of both the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts.
“This is a victory for workers and I am proud to say Unifor played a role,” said Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi. “Over the last two years, members have been involved in town halls, consultations, lobby sessions and active on social media to demand change.”
One week earlier, the Alberta government also introduced changes to the laws governing work, with Bill 17, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act.
The Act includes changes to the Labour Relations and Employment Standards Codes which is the first modernization in 30 years. It reintroduces card check certification, setting the threshold for certification at 65 per cent and also gives greater powers to officials who are enforcing employment standards and as well as leave provisions for Albertans who are sick, caring for a family member, or fleeing domestic violence.
“By re-balancing the power dynamic in the workplace, the government is giving Albertans important tools to have greater leverage at work,” said Western Regional Director Joie Warnock. Unifor was heavily involved in the Alberta review process and worked with the NDP government to develop the new legislation.