TORONTO – Ontario’s labour movement is demanding that the Ford government put the brakes on its deeply flawed Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. The Committee, which has been tasked with “leading the future of work in Ontario”, has no representation from labour, workers, or labour and employment law experts. It has been given less than one month to complete its so-called consultation process.
“The Committee’s makeup and its consultation process are fundamentally flawed. The process must be immediately halted, and the Committee must be reconstituted”, said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. “Working people deserve a seat at the table and to have meaningful input into the decisions that will shape their futures. We are calling on the government to put the brakes on this deeply flawed consultation process and to authentically and meaningfully engage with working people and their representatives.”
The Ford government’s announcement of the Committee comes shortly after Uber publicized its campaign for so-called “Flexible Work+”, a vaguely defined proposal modelled after Proposition 22, the California ballot initiative on which Uber and other gig employers spent upwards of $224 million USD to take away employment status from gig workers in California. Uber’s proposal calls for rules requiring it and other gig companies to provide “self-directed benefits” to their drivers based only on hours driving and certain unspecified additional safety training and tools. These changes would deny gig workers core protections afforded to employees in Ontario like the minimum wage, overtime pay, and paid sick days, as well as the reimbursement of expenses to ensure that their wages meet the ESA’s minimum standards.
“Given the rushed and deeply flawed nature of the consultation process, we can only conclude that the Ford government is using this sham process to rubber stamp the carve-outs from workers’ rights that Uber is lobbying for,” explained Coates. “Ontario’s labour movement stands united with gig workers against a Proposition 22-style plan to take away their rights at work.”
Instead of taking away these workers’ rights, the OFL is calling on the Ford government to take action to proactively enforce gig workers’ rights under the ESA, and to clarify their status as employees.
“App-based gig workers deserve the same rights as all other employees – full stop,” said Coates. “The Ontario government should enforce the laws already on the books to protect gig workers, and should follow the lead of courts and governments around the world and confirm that gig workers are employees and entitled to basic employment protections. Any calls to carve these workers out of their employment protections must be soundly rejected.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.
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