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January 2, 2019

1.7 million workers lost a $1/hr raise on New Year’s Day. For families across Ontario, that means hardship, working several part-time jobs to make ends meet, and hard choices about their day-to-day lives.

New Year’s Day was scheduled to be the day minimum-wage workers in Ontario got a $1/hr raise to $15/hr, until the Ford government cancelled the increase, stalling the minimum wage at $14.

On New Year’s Eve, the day before the cold reality that minimum wage would not rise would dawn for so many Ontario workers, the President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Rocco Rossi tweeted gleefully about his prosperity: “Celebrating New Year’s the 1-percenter way!” he tweeted, adding “Let them eat cake.”

This is shameful.

Ontario workers fought hard to win new rights in the well-researched changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that came in 2017. Then, Doug Ford tore those advancements away leaving our province with laws and a minimum wage that lags far behind what’s needed for Ontarians to work in dignity.

Because of the Ford government, workers in this province are now subject to laws that reflect a time when precarious work was nowhere near as common as it is today. Those laws do not protect Ontarians from unscrupulous employers, and they do not protect pay equity for part-time and full-time workers. They take away two paid sick days, forcing many workers to work while sick.

In the New Year, many of us make resolutions for what we’re going to do better over the course of the year. This 2019, I urge you to use Rossi’s tweet as inspiration for you to join the fight for decent work in this province.

Make it your resolution to join with us to defend workers’ rights. Talk to your neighbours, your co-workers, your friends and family. Tell them about the damage that Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives have done to workers in this province.

Go to myrights.ca and download flyers that you can share and distribute in your neighbourhood to make sure that everyone knows who took away these rights and the $15/hr minimum wage that workers need.

The blame for the hardship facing Ontario workers, particularly those who earn minimum wage, rests squarely on Doug Ford, his regressive conservative government, and the shameful lobby efforts of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

In 2019, I hope to see you fighting alongside us for decent work in Ontario.

In Solidarity,

Chris Buckley

President, Ontario Federation of Labour

COPE 343

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