August 23: Let’s unite for Decent Work & Status For All

August 18, 2022

We are having an action-packed summer with outreach blitzes, phone zaps and decent work picnics. And on August 8, to kick off the new Ontario Legislatively Assembly session, we joined the Ontario Federation of Labour to fill the front lawn of Queen’s Park. Together, we let Premier Doug Ford know Ontario needs fair wages, paid sick days, well-funded good quality public services, safe schools and an end to the healthcare crisis. 

Photo collage of summer actions - 1

We need your help to keep that momentum going. Join us for our next online decent work organizing meeting on Tuesday, August 23 at 7:00 pm EDT to plan the next round of actions. 

Read on to learn about the 4 decent work issues we’ll focus on for our breakout action groups at the August organizing meeting.

1) Safe Schools and Paid Sick Days

As we prepare for another school year, it is shocking we are still fighting to ensure all parents have paid sick days so they can stay home with sick children. 

Banner: Safe and healthy schools need paid sick days

Although the Ford government extended the WIPB (Worker Income Protection Benefit) for another 8 months, he did not increase the number of days available. In other words, those of us who already used the maximum 3 paid sick days between April 29, 2021, and today, have nothing under this extension.

Only having 3 paid sick days to stretch over more than 700 days is a sick joke when COVID-19 requires multiple days to isolate and multiple days to get vaccinated. And with the spread of monkeypox cases and seasonal flu, freezing and limiting paid sick days to only COVID reasons is a disaster waiting to happen.

That’s why health providers and education workers are joining forces to demand Safe Schools this September. We are demanding:

  • 10 permanent paid sick days, plus an additional 14 days during public health outbreaks;
  • Adequate funding to ensure the schools are safe and healthy for kids and staff;
  • Fair wages and free collective bargaining.

Photo collage of outreach and actions

2) Status for all

Under pressure from migrants and their allies, the federal government is considering a program to provide full immigration status to people who don’t have it. This is a huge development; without full and permanent immigration status, migrants don't have equal rights and protections under the law.

But the corporations who profit from precarious migrant labour are now actively lobbying the government to severely limit the number of people protected under any federal plan.

That’s why the Justice for Workers campaign is working with the Migrant Rights Network to collect thousands of petition signatures to show there is widespread support for status for all migrants. And on Sunday, September 18, Justice for Workers will join the 
Migrant Rights Network for a pan-Canadian Day of Action for Rights, Regularization, Status for All.

Watch the video below of 7 brave undocumented migrant workers who are stepping out of the shadows to share why their fight for Status For All is so important. Please share this video on Facebook and Twitter

3) Fix Employment Insurance

On September 24, all temporary measures that improved our access to EI will expire. At the start of COVID, the federal government relaxed EI eligibility to improve access to emergency support for those most in need. Without these supports, it would have been much worse for workers and their families due to the COVID closures, lockdowns and layoffs. As a Statistics Canada report shows, the positive impact of an accessible EI system on workers' lives is undeniable. [1]

An inaccessible and inadequate EI program is another disaster for workers who need access to EI now when the next crisis hits. That's why we are demanding t
he federal government immediately extend the temporary EI measures and implement the following permanent changes: 

  • Expand EI access:
    • A 360-hour or 12-week qualifying rule with 50 weeks of income support
    • An end to harsh disqualification rules
    • Ensure migrant workers have access to EI 
    • End misclassification, a practice where employers falsely label their employees as self-employed independent contractors to avoid paying their fair share of EI and CPP.
  • Improve the weekly benefit rate and include a guaranteed weekly minimum
  • Fund a new, annual federal government contribution to EI to help pay for improvements, provide adequate staffing with fair pay, and ensure EI acts as an effective economic stabilizer at times of crisis.

Collage of summer actions - 2

4) Labour solidarity for decent work

Inflation is at a 30-year high. Yet for too many of us, our wages remain the same. That's why from construction to coffee shops, and from healthcare to education, Ontario workers are organizing to demand better. That's also why public sector workers are demanding an end to Bill 124 which freezes workers’ wages. Even scientists and researchers recently marched on Parliament Hill demanding livable wages. [2]

Collage of summer actions

At our August Decent Work organizing meeting, we’ll be hosting a labour solidarity breakout group to discuss ways we can support all those who are fighting for fairness at Ontario workplaces. We want to keep building momentum for our demands by visiting picket lines and supporting other workers who are taking on bad bosses - including those without union protection. 

Now's the time to organize!

There are local events are coming online every week. Check out our website to find a decent work action near you, or to download decent work outreach materials such as leaflets, posters and fact sheets. 

See you at the August organizing meeting!

Jared Ong for Justice for Workers

[1] "Pandemic benefits cushion losses for low-income earners and narrow income inequality." Statistics Canada. July 13th, 2022. 

[2] "The future of science in Canada is at risk: Researchers call for pay raise" CTV News. August 11th, 2022.