May 16, 2017
Dear Premier Wynne,
I am writing to you with regard to media reports over the weekend of impending changes to the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), including the potential increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour.
I encourage you, in the strongest possible terms, to follow what I and many others suspect are progressive changes being recommended by the expert panel that your government convened two years ago.
Ontario is ready for this kind of positive change, in fact, our communities need it. The expert panel heard directly from thousands of Ontario workers talking about the reality of the challenges faced by far too many people in our province. They asked for legislative changes because they know they are needed. And they are counting on your government to actually listen, and to act in a way that will not only help them as individual workers, but will absolutely strengthen our province’s economy.
I am well aware that there are those publically calling on your government to not act. They use the same, old, tired arguments that have always been used by a small group against any progressive change to Employment Standards and Labour law.
They talk about the potential for negative economic impact, even though those arguments have been disproven time and again. They even try to suggest that workers want lower paid, precarious work – which is utterly ridiculous.
They call for studies that are absolutely unnecessary when there is very real experience from other jurisdictions of the positive economic impacts that come from strengthening employment and labour laws. Not to mention the fact that your government has engaged in a comprehensive consultation through the special advisors for two years already.
They continue to rely on the inclination of some politicians to be fearful of change. You cannot let them dissuade you and your colleagues from doing what is very much needed and what has the support of workers across the province.
While some media reports indicate your government is contemplating the restoration of card check certification for only some categories of workers, I want to make it clear that we need to restore it for all workers in Ontario. The federal Liberal government is restoring this right for workers in the federal jurisdiction because it is the right thing to do. Restoring card check for a small segment of workers is not the answer.
There are literally piles of economic studies that demonstrate one of the best pathways to creating more secure local economies is by making it easier for workers to join a union. And those same studies point out time and again how jurisdictions with higher rates of unionization have strong economies and a higher overall standard of living.
While I highlight this one issue, it isn’t the only action needed. As outlined by those many workers who took the time to give their feedback to the Changing Workplace Review, there are many progressive changes needed and they are all important to positively changing the trajectory for the working people of Ontario.
In closing, I know you and all of your colleagues are well aware that my union has been critical of policy moves made by your government. It would be an extraordinary feat to have me put in the position to publically congratulate your government for doing the right thing. And make no mistake, should your government move to do the things that have been leaked to the press in recent days, along with fully expanding card check certification to all workers, I will be happy to do just that.
Please, have the courage of your convictions in regard to these changes, do what the people of the province have been demanding for more than two years, modernize our employment and labour laws to restore some semblance of balance in Ontario. Our economy will be stronger for it and our collective future brighter.
President CUPE Ontario
Cc: Cabinet Ministers A.Bevan, L.Aagaard, R. Bornmann, D. Araneda, H. Bender, C. Taglione, D.Davidson, S. Andrey