March 8, 2017
(Toronto) – In a special briefing for female MPPs, senior political and advocates on the morning of International Women’s Day, the OFL drew attention to the ways that Ontario MPPs can ensure needed changes are made to employment and labour laws that can ensure decent work, fairness, and greater equality for women across Ontario. The event was attended by MPPs from all parties, who came together for a frank discussion about what women workers need in Ontario. The event was co-sponsored by the OFL and the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign.
The event celebrated the work of Ministers, female elected officials and senior advisors, reflecting on the changing world of work for women and how we can advance women’s equality – together.
The OFL and the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign urged the government of Ontario to continue its work toward achieving true equality for women in all areas of life. The OFL applauds government initiatives such as It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment and strongly encourages the Minister of the Status of Women to continue the work for equality through the ongoing Changing Workplaces Review.
The Changing Workplaces Review will disproportionately affect women workers because women are more likely than men to have insecure jobs: jobs with low income, few workplace benefits, little job security, uncertain work scheduling, and no protection through unions. In Ontario, women represent two-thirds of part-time workers and over 60 per cent of the 1.7 million Ontarians who earn at, or near, the minimum wage. Without a union, women are 8 times more likely to earn poverty wages. They are half as likely to have a pension at their workplace.
“It’s easy to suggest that women just go into what was once considered ‘non-traditional jobs’, careers in STEM fields, the trades, etc., but that misses the point,” said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates to the assembled MPPs. “It’s not just about getting a different job – it’s about making all jobs better so that everyone can have decent work. Collectively, we can do better to ensure that vulnerable workers, particularly women – women of colour, women from newcomer communities, young women and women with disabilities are not stuck in bad jobs.”
Coates urged the assembled MPPs to make changes this year. The Changing Workplaces Review recommendations are expected in the late spring. This year, MPPs can make sure that employment and labour laws ensure all workers are treated fairly, no matter their gender.
The OFL presented on needed changes to the Labour Relations Act, which would make it easier for Ontarians to join and keep a union, protect workers who are working to form a union, and ensure that the right to strike is protected. Pam Frache, Provincial Co-ordinator for The Fight for $15 and Fairness, outlined the changes that are needed to the Employment Standards Act including fair scheduling, ending contract flipping, paid sick days and adequate vacation, and equal pay and working conditions for temp workers.
“Precarious work is not inevitable,” said Frache. “We can end the exemptions that leave three out of every four workers without the full protection of the Employment Standards Act. The vast majority of Ontarians want meaningful change, including a $15 minimum wage. What we need right now are MPPs who will be decent work champions and deliver that legislation in 2017.”
The Changing Workplaces Review offers an historic opportunity for the Ontario government to make meaningful legislative changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act. The Ontario Federation of Labour and affiliated unions continue to mobilize labour unions to advocate for stronger employment and labour laws through its “Make It Fair” campaign, and to partner with the “Fight for 15 and Fairness” campaign.
The OFL’s Make It Fair campaign takes on issues of inequality in the workforce, and coincides with the province’s Changing Workplaces Review. The campaign works toward across-the-board changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that would improve standards for every worker and make it easier for them to join a union. For more information visit www.makeitfair.ca.
The Make It Fair campaign works in solidarity with The Fight for $15 & Fairness, which is supported by community, labour, student and faith groups across Ontario and works for sweeping changes to employment and labour laws. Central in the campaign is the demand for a $15 minimum wage for all workers, regardless of age, student status, job or area of work. For more information, visit 15andfairness.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
For further information contact:
Meagan Perry, Director of Communications, Ontario Federation of Labour
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