Unifor members can sign up to receive the latest bargaining updates by email.
Ontario 2021 Budget Consultation Submission
Unifor is pleased to provide input into the 2021 provincial budget. We are continuing to recommend a dual strategy to keep Ontarians protected and build a better economy – budget 2020 made some small gains but largely missed the mark. Our members and all Ontarians deserve more.
Keep Ontarians Protected
Ontario is well into the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic with cases continuing to rise despite increased restrictions across much of the province. Even after 10 months of pandemic protocols, many workers continue to be left unprotected, long-term care residents and workers are facing an acute crisis and laid-off workers remain without employer sponsored health coverage. It is imperative the Ontario government correct this situation. Unifor recommends the following:
- Ensure a swift and equitable vaccine rollout with a focus on all front-line workers and residents in long-term care.
- Ensure access to paid sick days:
- Institute a minimum of 7 days paid sick leave for all workers in Ontario, and 14 in a public health crisis.
- Fix long-term care:
- Immediately increase funding to meet the minimum standard of 4 hours of direct care per day immediately as opposed to the current plan for a 4 year phase in; immediately fast track PSW training;
- Phase out for-profit long-term care homes and transition toward community-based, publicly-owned or non-profit homes;
- Extend the COVID-19 wage top-up to all front-line health care workers and workplaces like retirement homes.
- Invest in health care and hospitals:
- Make the additional $4 billion invested in the health care sector in response to COVID-19 permanent as a step in restoring funding that was cut earlier in this government’s mandate;
- Implement a universal pharmacare program in partnership with the Federal government as committed to in the Speech from the Throne - our members who have lost their employer sponsored health care including in the hardest hit industries such as hospitality, gaming and aviation need pharmacare now.
- Protect child care and education workers, students and children:
- Provide additional permanent government funding to support school bus driver hiring and retention, increase the number of buses and routes, and increase resources such as paid adult school bus monitors to assist drivers that transport younger children or students with extra needs;
- Introduce stricter school bus passenger limits and funding for external professional school bus sanitation services.
Build a Better Ontario
The coronavirus has underscored some dysfunctions in Ontario’s economy that must be corrected including the fact that low-waged workers are undervalued and underpaid; a strong manufacturing sector is an essential component of rapid crisis response; and women and young parents need an affordable and accessible child care system in order to return to work and keep the Ontario economy moving. It is imperative these lessons are heeded. Unifor recommends government:
- Ensure essential service workers are paid according to the value they bring to society:
- Raise the minimum wage to 60% of the median wage for full-time workers. Based on this benchmark, Ontario’s 2020 minimum wage would be $15.86;
- Provide additional funding to increase the wages of low-wage workers in the broader public sector including child care workers, social service workers, health care workers, and education sector workers.
- Invest in Ontario’s manufacturing sector:
- Commit the one-third share of funding to purchase transit vehicles approved by the TTC and Toronto City Council earlier this year, including street and subway cars made in Thunder Bay, and made-in-Canada electric buses;
- Collaborate with federal and municipal governments in a comprehensive and targeted auto development strategy that facilitates high value investments in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) product and component part programs alongside internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and powertrain programs. Ontario must continue investing in EV infrastructure and consumer incentives.
- Build critical infrastructure, physical and social, with a focus on environmental sustainability:
- Implement a universal child care program in partnership with the Federal Government as committed to in the Speech from the Throne; continue to offer emergency child care to front line workers and expand the list of eligible workers;
- Ensure adequate and permanent provincial funding to maintain and expand high quality, affordable public transit service and infrastructure; prohibit the use of public funds to reduce and eliminate municipal transit routes and replacing them with private micro-transit (e.g. Uber, Lyft) services;
- Invest in the construction of more affordable rental housing, implement greater protections for those who are facing eviction, and reinstitute rent controls on new buildings.
The recommendations above form an important part of Unifor’s own economic recovery plan entitled Unifor’s Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Just Economic Recovery. The full document can be found at https://buildbackbetter.unifor.org/the_road_map.
Toronto City Council must support paid sick days for all
Dear Board Members,
Re: Support for paid sick days
The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic grow increasingly dire for Ontarians, including frontline
workers, each day. This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the structural deficiencies in Canada’s social infrastructure, glaring gaps in legislative standards and deep-rooted inequities.
On behalf of the 160,000 Unifor members who live and work in the province of Ontario, including more than 40,000 in the Greater Toronto Area, I urge you to support the Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation that the province grant workers access to up to 10 paid sick days, each year.
As the Board is undoubtedly aware, our union and community partners continue to advocate for fairer and more equitable labour laws in Ontario and across Canada. The absence of paid time off the job for workers who are sick is a major gap in provincial labour and health standards, and has been for decades. The failure of politicians to address this gap, meaningfully, in the course of this pandemic is unconscionable.
In past months, the opinions of leading health experts have coalesced behind paid sick days as a key policy lever to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Workplaces continue to pose a significant risk of outbreak, creating vulnerabilities for workers. At highest risk are precarious workers in public-facing and low-wage service jobs, many of them women and workers of colour, who can ill afford to forego a day’s pay if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Federal efforts to address these labour standard gaps through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, while well intentioned, are limited and inflexible. Provinces must step up, and quickly, to rectify this deficiency for now but also as a matter of rational work and health policy in future.
I want to thank the Toronto Board of Health, and its staff, for serving the public well during this difficult time. Your advice and guidance is a stabilizing force for those of us navigating this extraordinary crisis on a daily basis.
A strong vote in favour of Dr. de Villa’s report recommendation pertaining to paid sick days is another show of strong, progressive leadership needed in this time.
Unifor Ontario Regional Director