NDP will fight to improve Ontario labour laws

After two weeks of public hearings on Ontario’s new proposed labour legislation, Ontario NDP Labour critic Cindy Forster says the NDP will be tabling a package of amendments to strengthen the Wynne government’s weak labour bill – a bill Forster says misses the mark.

“We’ve spent the last two weeks hearing from workers, unions, community members and business owners on the government’s proposed legislation, and the message we’re hearing on all sides is clear: this bill has more loopholes and exemptions than actual protections,” said Forster. “It does not provide stability to the growing number of workers in unstable jobs.”

The Liberal government has spent 14 years refusing to update Ontario’s outdated employment laws – which are now two decades old. The newest package still ignores years of proposals by working people, unions and the NDP.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wrote in the Toronto Star last week that she planned to amend the bill to give workers, including part-time workers, more access to paid sick and personal emergency days. She also noted that workers shouldn’t have to accumulate five years of seniority to get additional vacation days, and that the government must make it easier to form a union and negotiate a fair first contract.

Horwath also said she’d fight for the provisions in a long-standing NDP bill that would give survivors of domestic violence access to more paid leave for medical treatment, to connect with victims’ services, relocate to a safe home and to participate in legal proceedings.

“This bill falls far short.  I don’t think Kathleen Wynne understands how much workplaces have changed, and how much the laws need to catch up,” said Forster. “There is no mention of paid emergency leave provisions for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It excludes most workers from the right to choose to form a union – a ticket to stability. And the Wynne Liberals have ignored the need to create more stability for families in the new contract, part-time and short-term gig economy.

“Ontario’s New Democrats have been raising these issues in the legislature and in our communities for years. Fighting for working people is who we are – and we’ll continue to fight to raise employment standards, give workers the protections they need and build stability for Ontario businesses. We look forward to putting forward significant changes that will actually make a difference in the day-to-day lives of Ontario families, and the many workers that have come forward to ask for better over the last few weeks.”