More than a year into the pandemic, the Ontario government has finally been forced to take action on paid sick days. While the temporary paid sick days program is far from “the best paid sick days program in North America”, this hard-fought win is another example that when we fight, we can make real progress. The victory in Ontario has already had far-reaching implications, with four other provinces seeing new legislation for paid sick days. However, this fight is far from over, with so much still left on the table. None of the paid sick days schemes are permanent, and the days covered are completely inadequate. Workers still need at least ten permanent, employer-paid sick days plus an additional 14 during outbreaks.
We also know that workers need more than paid sick days. As Samara’s story illustrates, workers in low-wage and precarious employment are facing devastating conditions. Through the new Justice for Workers campaign, we are demanding decent wages, decent hours, paid sick days, equal pay, and labour laws that protect all of us. While this government is failing workers, we've shown that even the most anti-worker government can feel the pressure to respond. We are fighting for justice for workers, and we won’t stop until we win decent work for ALL.
Join the next provincial organizing meeting!
Will you come to the next organizing meeting on Tuesday, May 18, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm? Click here to register right now. Together we can shape the strategies and tactics we will use to engage the millions of workers across Ontario in this fight.Read more
Toronto, ON - Hundreds of workers joined forces on Saturday, May 1, to call for urgently needed changes to labour law to address the crisis unfolding in workplaces across Ontario.
“COVID 19 has shown us that precarious employment is a health hazard for everyone in Ontario,” said Deena Ladd, Executive Director of the Workers’ Action Centre. “Doug Ford and his Conservative government have made it clear that they are working for big businesses and not people. Since starting in office, Ford’s government has repealed the $15 minimum wage, rolled back protections for workers, and eliminated paid sick days. Our movement has only grown stronger in response, and pressure is mounting on this government to do what is right.”
“We’re putting Ford on notice,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. "Essential protections for workers are long overdue. Your neglect of workers and their communities is unforgivable. Make no mistake: we will make sure you are a one-term Premier.”
Other workers shared heartbreaking yet inspiring testimonies. Each worker explained what protections were needed, urged politicians to step up, and vowed to keep fighting to make work better for everyone. The workers who spoke knew firsthand how bad jobs harm workers, families, and communities.Read more
TORONTO -- The Ontario government’s Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB) falls far short of what health experts and worker advocates have been calling for. Even worse, the scheme provides less money to low-wage workers who would otherwise have qualified for the already flawed CRSB. Once again, low-wage racialized workers whose communities are being hardest hit by COVID-19 are being left behind.
The program is far from the “best paid sick day plan in North America” -- it is temporary until September and is only for COVID-19 related illness. At just three days, the WIPB does not offer the minimum 10 paid days that workers need - especially during a pandemic. But perhaps the most troubling aspect of this new scheme is the fact workers earning less than $23 an hour could actually be worse off under Premier Doug Ford’s WIPB than under the CRSB.
Here’s why:Read more
For immediate release
Hundreds of workers will join forces to say: “No more preventable deaths. Time’s up for the Ford Government.”
Toronto, ON - On Saturday, May 1, at 11:00 AM, hundreds of workers will join forces across Ontario to demand immediate action to address the growing crisis in workplaces across Ontario.
The pandemic has made it clear that paid sick days, decent wages, and safe working conditions are a matter of life and death for all of us. Without action to improve labour law, workers cannot protect themselves, their families or their communities.
At the online rally, workers will share heartbreaking stories that illustrate the realities of precarious, low-wage jobs and explain the steps our elected representatives must take to effect change.
During the rally, we will also be receiving live reports from safely organized, in-person actions.
What: Online rally for decent work; workers sharing their actual experiences on the job, and why we need paid sick days, decent wages, and decent work for all
When: May 1 at 11:00 AM to 12:00 PMRead more
FAQ: Raising the Minimum Wage
Will raising the minimum wage will cost low-wage workers their jobs?
Although the big business lobby and politicians often make this argument, there is overwhelming evidence that this is not the case. In countless cities and states in the United States that have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour the job losses predicted by the big business lobby didn’t happen. Instead, more jobs were created in the local economy.
In Ontario, the provincial government raised the minimum wage from $11.65 to $14 an hour in 2018. That was a 21% increase in the minimum wage in a single year. Some economists and businesses predicted that over a hundred thousand jobs would be lost because employers couldn’t afford to pay workers a higher wage. The reality was that the Ontario economy added 78,000 full-time jobs and saw record low unemployment in 2018.
Won’t raising the minimum wage hurt small businesses?
Answer: When the bosses and the rich have money in their bank accounts they tend to put it into the invest it in the stock market or purchase more luxury goods like yachts, cars and champagne. They are not spending money in the local economy, they are taking money out of the local economy.
Raising wages means pumping billions of dollars into the local economy. When workers have extra money in their bank accounts they tend to spend it in the local economy and help create demand for more jobs.
In the service sector big corporate chains, like McDonald's, Tim Hortons, Starbucks are able to undercut small businesses because they rely on a low-wage worker model to out-compete small businesses. Raising wages levels the playing field for small businesses, while also giving the local economy a boost!
In cities that have raised their minimum wage, like Seattle which raised $9 to $15, local restaurants saw increased business. This led to job growth in the restaurant sector in Seattle.
Won’t raising the minimum wage just mean prices will go up?
The price of food and rent goes up every year, regardless if workers see an increase in pay. Raising wages does not cause inflation, it allows workers to keep up. This is especially important during the pandemic where so many workers have seen a loss in wages, employment or hours worked.
When the minimum wage was increased by 21% in 2018 there was no spike in consumer prices. The consumer price index, which measures prices of common goods and services, showed only a 2.4% increase in prices in 2018 in Ontario, in line with the national average.
The idea that raising wages will cause inflation is a myth used to discourage workers from demanding higher wages.
Can employers afford a higher minimum wage now?
The pandemic has deepened the divide between the rich and the rest of us. Canada’s billionaires increased their wealth by 78 billion dollars during the pandemic. 47 billionaires now have a combined wealth of 270 billion dollars.
The government has gifted businesses in excess of 100 billion dollars of free money this last year. Meanwhile, millions of workers are falling further behind. Facing unemployment, reduced hours and low-wages workers are struggling to get by. Raising the minimum wage is an effective measure to reduce inequality and jumpstart the economy. Raising the minimum wage is a key part of a just recovery from the pandemic.
Won’t raising the minimum wage just mean that companies will replace workers with self-serve checkouts and robots?
The argument that if workers are paid more they will simply be replaced by machines has been told to workers for hundreds of years. Most low-wage jobs are concentrated in the service sector and these jobs are hard to replace with machines. Robots are not very good at cleaning, cooking, stocking shelves or caring for children.
When bosses do introduce machines like self-service checkouts this has not replaced workers but has simply allowed bosses to increase the pace of work. For instance, when self-service machines at Mcdonald's were introduced the company had to hire more line-cooks to keep up with the increase in orders.