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EDITORIAL: This premier is not for the people (City Election 2018)

October 17th, 2018 · No Comments

On October 2 Premier Doug Ford told the Ontario legislature, “We’re getting rid of Bill 148. We’re going to make sure we protect the front-line workers.”

It’s not clear how these two sentences relate, because the bill he wants to axe — which he said was destroying Ontario and making it uncompetitive — is designed to give workers more protection, not less.

Ford claims he came to this decision after speaking to thousands and thousands of Ontarians. Yet one resident that he failed to speak with was Jim Wilson, his own Minister of Economic Development, who said outside the legislature later that same day that the bill was merely under review.

Like the recent, all-consuming effort that the premier embarked on to reduce the size of Toronto City Council, there was no mention of this plan to reverse these labour reforms during the provincial campaign. He did promise to stop the scheduled increase of the minimum wage from $14 to $15 per hour, but that is a relatively small part of much-needed progressive reforms introduced by the previous Liberal government.

In addition to increasing the minimum wage from $11.24 to $14 an hour effective January 1, 2018, Bill 148 — The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act —also set out regulations that ensured part-time employees would be paid the same as full-time employees for the same work. All employees are now entitled to two sick days a year, and do not have to get a physician’s note, something that was seen as a nuisance by the medical establishment. And, employees who have been with the same employer for more than five years are now entitled to three weeks of paid vacation per year.

Lesser known but important elements of law are the new regulations against requiring employees to wear specific footwear (like high heels, for example), unless required for safety.

Victims of domestic or sexual violence are entitled to 15 weeks of leave, five days paid and 10 days unpaid.

Some businesses responded to Bill 148 with doom and gloom warnings of price increases and massive layoffs. None of this has come to pass, even though the lobby groups have sustained the narrative.

Rocco Rossi, the president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, claims that 80,000 jobs have been lost to automation as a result of the act.

But Douglas Porter, the Bank of Montreal’s chief economist, said that “from a very big picture view, the Ontario job market is holding up relatively well given the shock of a plus 21 per cent increase in minimum wages”.

In August Statistics Canada said that “the province added 61,000 new jobs in July and the jobless rate fell from 5.9 per cent to 5.4 per cent — the lowest level since 2000”. That’s an 18-year low, six months after the minimum wage hike.

The minimum wage increase wage was designed to help lift 1.6 million workers out of poverty. Though it falls short of that goal, it does bring greater fairness to the province’s workplaces.

There’s no evidence of any jobs lost as a result of the legislation, but then this is not a government interested in evidence-based policy. Ford may have campaigned on a promise that he was there for the little guy, but now he plans to stick it to them.

 

READ MORE EDITORIALS: 

EDITORIAL: Eight weeks lost to Ford’s madness (October 2018)

EDITORIAL: A lost cause worth fighting for (Aug./Sept. 2018)

EDITORIAL: Reclaiming our city (Summer 2018)

EDITORIAL: City staff ignore bike lanes (July 2018)

EDITORIAL: The market has no moral compass (Election Special 2018)

EDITORIAL: Lessons to be learned from Excessive Force (Spring 2018)

EDITORIAL: A social contract is a precious thing (March 2018)

EDITORIAL: Intolerance leading to Quebec’s decline (Dec. 2017)

EDITORIAL (Nov. 2017): Student safety suffers as trustees cave

EDITORIAL: Pandering to religious intolerance (October 2017)

EDITORIAL: Bike lanes, good for business (Fall 2017)

EDITORIAL: Don’t sacrifice safety for political gain (August 2017)

Tags: Annex · Editorial