Premier Doug Ford is now a year and a half into his term and his government has already cancelled the $15 minimum wage and introduced several bills that roll back labour rights.
There are many reasons to believe we will see more attacks on collective bargaining in the near future, according to Joshua Mandryk, and associate with Goldblatt Partners, who spoke to delegates at the OFL’s Power of Many convention Thursday.
“Doug Ford has no mandate on labour law reform,” he said. “They were silent on these issues, they have no popular mandate for what they have done or what I think they will try to do.”
Mandryk said all you need to do is look at the PC labour law agenda under Tim Hudak – a plan voters rejected twice at the polls – to get an idea of what comes next.
“The end goal for the right is to starve the labour movement of resources,” he said, pointing to Monte McNaughton, the current Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development who served as Hudak’s critic for Economic Development, Employment and Growth.
“One of the guys that crafted that agenda, campaigned and championed that agenda, and now he’s in power,” said Mandryk.
Some of the tactics on this list include what the Conservative Party calls ‘paycheque protection,’ onerous financial reporting rules designed to impose an administrative burden, and likely a bill that slows down the process for certification votes.
A lot of the legislation, include the Student Choice Initiative, which was recently defeated in court, are trial balloons for American-style right to work legislation, said Mandryk. The same kind of legislation is being tested by the Kenney government in Alberta.
“There is no purpose for doing this other than to make union organizing more difficult and less successful,” he said. “Could a government legislate a right for individual workers to opt out of union representation? That was precisely what Hudak proposed.”
Mandryk remains optimistic, though. He says the government has shown themselves vulnerable to public and political pressure.
“It’s the movement that’s going to do this, it’s the political pressure and fighting them in the streets,” he said.