Honourable Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto,ON M7A 1A1
The release of Ontario’s framework plan to reopen the economy is an encouraging development in the province’s months-long program to tackle COVID-19.
The hardship that COVID-19 has had on this province cannot be overstated. Many Unifor members continue to stand at the frontlines of this crisis, in long-term care facilities, hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential workplaces. Others are eager to return to work, although not at the expense of their personal health and safety. It is critical that Ontario take a measured, evidence-based and precautionary approach to any economic re-start.
Getting this restart right, the first time, is the province’s only option. Workers must have confidence in the government’s ability to contain this crisis, and to protect their health, as part of any return to work program.
Over the past weeks, our union has been in discussions with many employers – discussing exactly this. In preparation for an eventual restart, we are working collaboratively with employers through our Joint Health and Safety Committees, co-developing robust safety protocols – across a variety of different and high-risk workplaces – for the benefit of our members. This is a challenging task, but a rewarding one.
The framework document your government has prepared states that, over the coming days, the province’s special Jobs and Recovery Committee “will begin holding discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.”
Premier, it is disheartening not to see labour unions and worker advocacy groups explicitly included in this list. In any event, I think it would be of significant value to the province to include Unifor, through the office of our Ontario Director Naureen Rizvi, in these consultations.
We look forward to assisting the province and its team of medical officials in developing the safest possible return to work strategies for all Ontarians.
I encourage the representatives of the Jobs and Recovery Committee to connect with Naureen at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting.