Letter to the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism from the OFL and Colour of Poverty–Colour of Change

 

March 10, 2017
Honourable Michael Coteau
Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism
14th Floor, 56 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON   M5S 2S3
Dear Minister Coteau,

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC) welcome several of the announcements made earlier this week around the government’s Three Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, which includes the launch of Ontario’s Black Youth Action Plan, public education and awareness campaigns, and an anti-racism impact assessment. The OFL is also very pleased to see your steadfast commitment to pass legislation that will mandate the collection of race-based data across multiple sectors and environments (e.g., education, child welfare, justice, education, and health) in the Spring of 2017.

Together, Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change and the OFL – which formally represents one million unionized workers across the province – calls on the Anti-Racism Directorate to construct a comprehensive strategy around the economic and employment disparities facing Indigenous workers and workers of colour in Ontario.  This includes collecting race-based data across the Ontario labour market, applying an equity lens to Ontario’s employment and labour laws, and committing to introducing mandatory extended and robust employment equity legislation. For other recommendations, please refer to COP-COC’s and OFL’s submissions on the Anti-Racism Directorate as well (attached).

We know that insecure work is at the core of racial inequality in Ontario.  Although workers of colour have slightly higher levels of labour market participation, they continue to experience higher levels of unemployment and earn a lower income than non-racialized Canadians.  In fact, as a whole Canadians of colour earn 81 cents for every dollar paid to non-racialized Canadians.  This wage gap is even wider for Indigenous and workers of colour that are female, have accessibility issues, and/or are recent newcomers.

This racialized wage differential is partly due to the lack of opportunity afforded to Indigenous workers and workers of colour in accessing well paying, secure jobs.  It is therefore imperative that the government leverage the opportunity of the Changing Workplaces Reviewto apply an equity lens on employment conditions in Ontario and make meaningful changes to the Employment Standards and the Labour Relations Acts that will create decent work for all Ontarians.

The government must also introduce effective employment regulating legislation to ensure that all Ontarians have fair and equitable opportunities in the labour market.  This piece of legislation must assist in removing employment barriers, establishing transparent human resource policies and practices, and cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion in all Ontario workplaces.

It is incumbent on the government to help ensure that Indigenous workers and workers of colour do not fall further behind in the labour market.

Sincerely,

Ahmad Gaied

Executive Vice-President, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)

 

The COPC Steering Committee members
Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services
African Canadian Legal Clinic
Canadian Arab Federation
Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
Hispanic Development Council
Karuna Community Services
Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto
Metro Toronto Chinese & South East Asian Legal Clinic
Midaynta Community Services
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
La Passerelle – I.D.E.
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office
Professor Grace-Edward Galabuzi (Ryerson University)

 

 

cc:    The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier
OFL Executive Board & Council
OFL Workers of Colour Committee

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