July 20, 2017
Attention: Mr. Eric Rennie, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Re: Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017
Dear Mr. Rennie,
I’m writing to you on behalf of the Toronto Disability Pride March, an organization founded to bring attention to the rights and oppression of people with disabilities. Among Ontarians, people with disabilities are more likely to live below the poverty line, with low wage, precarious work, if we can find it all. We are appalled by opponents of this Bill who have cited people with disabilities as an excuse to keep wages low, or have insinuated that people with disabilities do not want or deserve a living wage.
Workers across Ontario, including those with disabilities, have made it clear that too many of us are working for low wages in part-time, temporary or contract jobs without employment benefits, workplace protection or the right to form, and keep, a union. For too many Ontario workers, full time work does not guarantee a life above the poverty line. Income and job insecurity keep us from making ends meet.
The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) introduces many important changes to address Ontario’s outdated labour laws. The proposed changes in Bill 148 to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Labour Relations Act (LRA) provide a good start to addressing precarious work to deal with changing workplace practices. However, we are calling for amendments to Bill 148 to ensure it can close the gaps and raise the floor of minimum standards for the highest possible number of workers in Ontario.
Millions of workers (and their families) in this province are waiting to see how your committee will pave the way to strengthen our archaic labour laws. We are calling on you to reject suggestions that will make work more precarious, under the guise of enabling flexibility for the kind of business practices that continue to exert downward pressure on the wages and working conditions of all of us. The bulk of evidence shows that decent work is the foundation of a strong economy, better health outcomes, and reduced inequality. We disagree with those who suggest otherwise.
Our organization fully supports the recommendations and amendments put forward in the submissions by: the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services, Decent Work and Health Network, Migrant Workers’ Alliance for Change, Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic and the Ontario Federation of Labour as part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness.
Melissa Graham, Founder
Toronto Disability Pride