The Ontario Federation of Labour welcomes the elements of the USMCA which provide improvements for Canadian workers, notably in the auto sector, but fears for workers in industries left without much-needed economic protection by the agreement.
“There are significant gaps in this agreement that will hurt workers in a number of sectors including steel and aluminum where it fails to eliminate U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel, and cultural industries which have been left with outdated regulations. Workers across the country will also feel the pinch as the extension of drug patents makes medications increasingly unaffordable for families,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley.
“Canadians were told that NAFTA would create good jobs, and instead Ontario has seen the rise of precarious, part-time, contract, low-wage jobs over the life of the agreement,” said Buckley “Now that the terms of the USMCA trade agreement have been established and are in the ratification process in jurisdictions across North America, the government of Ontario must do all that it can to ensure decent work for Ontarians in all sectors. The OFL calls on the government of Ontario to work alongside their federal counterparts to ensure that the immediate removal of security tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are a top priority.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour anticipates that this agreement, like NAFTA, will be used to justify rollbacks on rights that workers won under the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which set in law January 1, 2019 increase to a $15 minimum wage. Other improvements to Ontario’s labour and employment laws also included fairer scheduling rules, paid sick days, emergency leave days, and made it easier to join a union.
“This agreement will give big business one more excuse to say that Ontario should cut back workers’ rights. Ontarians must join to ensure that workers have fair and needed access to protections in the workplace,” said Buckley.