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Ontario’s Interim “Changing Workplaces Review” Report is a First Step in Improving Employees’ Rights

TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes the release of the Interim Report from Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review. Issued today, the report sets out pathways to action that would improve and modernize Ontario’s outdated Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA).

The report summarizes the many challenges facing employees in Ontario, including the unprecedented growth of non-standard, precarious work and the barriers to achieving collective bargaining rights. It includes recommendations by Ontario’s labour movement and community advocates that would make Ontario more successful, more equitable and more ready to adapt to a changing future.

“This report is an accurate and worrisome picture of what it is like to be an employee in Ontario,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren. “After the review’s final recommendations later this year, the Ontario government will have every reason to take real legislative action to stop the erosion of decent jobs and to provide employees with fairness when they seek to join unions.”

“Employees and their families need more stability in job status and working conditions, in scheduling, in their work hours and pay as well as fairness to join a union and exercise their rights to collective bargaining,” said Warren. “We are pleased to see these solutions in the options set out in the interim report.

Since the mid-1990s, new job creation in Ontario has been significantly concentrated in low-wage sectors with erratic scheduling practices, few benefits and constricted access to effective collective bargaining.

The USW has proposed a set of practical, achievable, positive improvements to the Labour Relations and Employment Standards Act.

Among them were the elimination of barriers to employees who want to choose union membership, preventing employer intimidation and harassment of those employees, improving the collective bargaining and dispute resolution processes and maintaining union protection when service providers are flipped, as happens so often to security guards, cleaners, food workers and other service sector employees.

Additionally, the USW supports other changes that would ensure equal pay, benefits and conditions for all employees regardless of their part-time, temporary or full-time status, paid sick days and vacation days in keeping with international standards and proactive enforcement of employment standards – especially around the misclassification of employees by temporary staffing agencies.

“This interim report is an important first step. We commend the work of the review and the special advisors so far. It has been two decades since Ontario’s labour laws were reviewed. The need for Ontario to overhaul its outdated employment laws is acute and pressing,” said Warren.

As the Changing Workplace Review progresses toward its final report to the government, the USW will continue to work with the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) through campaigns like the Fight for $15 and Fairness and the Make It Fair campaign (a partner campaign to the Fight for $15).

“Real fairness means an economy that values the work of everyone, lifts every employee up, enforces employment laws, ensures that every job is a decent job and enshrines the Charter right of every employee to collectively bargain,” said Warren.

Background: Read the USW’s comprehensive submission to the Changing Workplaces Review


For further information:

Marty Warren, United Steelworkers Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Brad James, United Steelworkers Organizing Department, 416-544-6006, bjames@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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