Ontario may approve a $15 minimum wage, sweeping labour law changes

News May 16, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

When Linda Bernard broke her ankle at work, she got a plant and a card from co-workers, but nothing from her employer.

Ten years at a non-profit daycare in Scarborough had earned Bernard no benefits, and she found herself paying for a cast, crutches and a walking boot before trying, unsuccessfully, to return to work.

When she caught ringworm and pink eye from the children, her employer, who offered Bernard no paid sick days, also refused to pay for medications. “Out of pocket you would have to buy the drops for your eye or the cream for your arm,” Bernard said Tuesday.

Such treatment left a bad taste, and she later became an organizer for the $15 and Fairness campaign, which has pushed the province hard to extend benefits to all workers and raise Ontario’s minimum wage.

The Ontario’s Cabinet is reportedly in meetings this week, discussing dramatic changes which could affect the lives of millions, and Bernard can hardly wait.

“It’s looking good,” she said. “The momentum is growing right now with the provincial election (coming) next June.”

Responding to the province’s Changing Workplaces Review, $15 and Fairness asked for a hike to a $15-an-hour minimum, at least seven paid sick days, three weeks of paid vacation, and guaranteed emergency unpaid leave.

Surprisingly, Cabinet is said to be considering approving all of that.  

“We certainly urge the government to do the right thing,” said Mary Gellatly, a community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, who said the changes are needed to deal with a province-wide shift towards more low-wage and precarious jobs.

Campaigners want the changes legislated before the Liberal government’s mandate is up, added Gellatly. “Otherwise, Ontarians will lose faith in this government.”

The province is expected to release its review and a decision on recommendations after the Victoria Day weekend.

Gallatly said employers have lobbied too. “Status quo is what businesses wanted,” she said.

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday, the Toronto-based Ontario Chamber of Commerce says it objects, “in the strongest terms,” to many of the potential reforms and added that such changes “will tip our economic balance in a profoundly negative way” and would “make it more difficult for Ontario businesses to grow and create good jobs.”

The Chamber argues the province needs to do an “economic impact analysis” of the proposed reforms before it changes anything. Many of the challenges the review tries to address “can be solved by improving employer and employee awareness of workplace rights,” the letter, signed by Interim President Richard Koroscil, suggests.

While campaigning with the city’s Workers Action Centre in Scarborough’s Malvern neighbourhood, Bernard said she met many people who didn’t have paid sick days and felt they had to come to work sick.

Many receive the current $11.40 minimum wage and live below the poverty line, or else work two or three jobs and hardly see their children, she said.

“They do want better lives for themselves and their families.”

Ontario may approve a $15 minimum wage, sweeping labour law changes

"Momentum growing" as election approaches, campaigner says

News May 16, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

When Linda Bernard broke her ankle at work, she got a plant and a card from co-workers, but nothing from her employer.

Ten years at a non-profit daycare in Scarborough had earned Bernard no benefits, and she found herself paying for a cast, crutches and a walking boot before trying, unsuccessfully, to return to work.

When she caught ringworm and pink eye from the children, her employer, who offered Bernard no paid sick days, also refused to pay for medications. “Out of pocket you would have to buy the drops for your eye or the cream for your arm,” Bernard said Tuesday.

Such treatment left a bad taste, and she later became an organizer for the $15 and Fairness campaign, which has pushed the province hard to extend benefits to all workers and raise Ontario’s minimum wage.

The Ontario’s Cabinet is reportedly in meetings this week, discussing dramatic changes which could affect the lives of millions, and Bernard can hardly wait.

“It’s looking good,” she said. “The momentum is growing right now with the provincial election (coming) next June.”

Responding to the province’s Changing Workplaces Review, $15 and Fairness asked for a hike to a $15-an-hour minimum, at least seven paid sick days, three weeks of paid vacation, and guaranteed emergency unpaid leave.

Surprisingly, Cabinet is said to be considering approving all of that.  

“We certainly urge the government to do the right thing,” said Mary Gellatly, a community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, who said the changes are needed to deal with a province-wide shift towards more low-wage and precarious jobs.

Campaigners want the changes legislated before the Liberal government’s mandate is up, added Gellatly. “Otherwise, Ontarians will lose faith in this government.”

The province is expected to release its review and a decision on recommendations after the Victoria Day weekend.

Gallatly said employers have lobbied too. “Status quo is what businesses wanted,” she said.

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday, the Toronto-based Ontario Chamber of Commerce says it objects, “in the strongest terms,” to many of the potential reforms and added that such changes “will tip our economic balance in a profoundly negative way” and would “make it more difficult for Ontario businesses to grow and create good jobs.”

The Chamber argues the province needs to do an “economic impact analysis” of the proposed reforms before it changes anything. Many of the challenges the review tries to address “can be solved by improving employer and employee awareness of workplace rights,” the letter, signed by Interim President Richard Koroscil, suggests.

While campaigning with the city’s Workers Action Centre in Scarborough’s Malvern neighbourhood, Bernard said she met many people who didn’t have paid sick days and felt they had to come to work sick.

Many receive the current $11.40 minimum wage and live below the poverty line, or else work two or three jobs and hardly see their children, she said.

“They do want better lives for themselves and their families.”

Ontario may approve a $15 minimum wage, sweeping labour law changes

"Momentum growing" as election approaches, campaigner says

News May 16, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

When Linda Bernard broke her ankle at work, she got a plant and a card from co-workers, but nothing from her employer.

Ten years at a non-profit daycare in Scarborough had earned Bernard no benefits, and she found herself paying for a cast, crutches and a walking boot before trying, unsuccessfully, to return to work.

When she caught ringworm and pink eye from the children, her employer, who offered Bernard no paid sick days, also refused to pay for medications. “Out of pocket you would have to buy the drops for your eye or the cream for your arm,” Bernard said Tuesday.

Such treatment left a bad taste, and she later became an organizer for the $15 and Fairness campaign, which has pushed the province hard to extend benefits to all workers and raise Ontario’s minimum wage.

The Ontario’s Cabinet is reportedly in meetings this week, discussing dramatic changes which could affect the lives of millions, and Bernard can hardly wait.

“It’s looking good,” she said. “The momentum is growing right now with the provincial election (coming) next June.”

Responding to the province’s Changing Workplaces Review, $15 and Fairness asked for a hike to a $15-an-hour minimum, at least seven paid sick days, three weeks of paid vacation, and guaranteed emergency unpaid leave.

Surprisingly, Cabinet is said to be considering approving all of that.  

“We certainly urge the government to do the right thing,” said Mary Gellatly, a community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, who said the changes are needed to deal with a province-wide shift towards more low-wage and precarious jobs.

Campaigners want the changes legislated before the Liberal government’s mandate is up, added Gellatly. “Otherwise, Ontarians will lose faith in this government.”

The province is expected to release its review and a decision on recommendations after the Victoria Day weekend.

Gallatly said employers have lobbied too. “Status quo is what businesses wanted,” she said.

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday, the Toronto-based Ontario Chamber of Commerce says it objects, “in the strongest terms,” to many of the potential reforms and added that such changes “will tip our economic balance in a profoundly negative way” and would “make it more difficult for Ontario businesses to grow and create good jobs.”

The Chamber argues the province needs to do an “economic impact analysis” of the proposed reforms before it changes anything. Many of the challenges the review tries to address “can be solved by improving employer and employee awareness of workplace rights,” the letter, signed by Interim President Richard Koroscil, suggests.

While campaigning with the city’s Workers Action Centre in Scarborough’s Malvern neighbourhood, Bernard said she met many people who didn’t have paid sick days and felt they had to come to work sick.

Many receive the current $11.40 minimum wage and live below the poverty line, or else work two or three jobs and hardly see their children, she said.

“They do want better lives for themselves and their families.”