What Ford’s statement on scrapping Bill 148 could mean for Ontario workers

When it comes to Premier Ford we need to watch what he does, not what he says, especially when it comes to standing up for workers and their families, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.

Hahn’s comment comes in response to Ford’s threat to scrap Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, while saying he will protect frontline workers.

“Bill 148 was brought in to protect the most vulnerable and precarious workers in our province. Scrapping the Bill does a whole lot more than just cancelling the minimum wage increase and will only hurt frontline workers,” says Hahn. “All across Ontario workers and their families are struggling. They used to have money at the end of week, now they have week at the end of the money. If the Premier really wants to protect workers he will rethink his plan.”

Some of what workers will lose if the government fully repeals Bill 148 includes:

  • Not only the scheduled minimum wage increase to $15/hour. The legislation also brought in the initial increase to $14/hour and implemented a cost-of-living adjustment going forward so that the lowest paid workers don’t continuously slide backward.
  • Equal pay for part-time workers doing the same work as full-timers – allowing employers to once again exploit part-time workers and reduce the number of full-time jobs, forcing thousands of workers to have to work multiple part-time jobs
  • Protection for temp agency workers
  • Protection from misclassifying employees as contractors to avoid employer obligations
  • Fair notification of schedule changes
  • 2 days of paid sick time
  • Leave for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence
  • Job protection for workers who have to take emergency leave

“If Premier Ford is serious about protecting frontline workers then he has to rethink his plans to scrap this vital legislation,” says Hahn. “CUPE Ontario will do everything to protect Ontario workers. We cannot allow the Premier to make our lives harder.”

NAFTA gets worse for Canadians under USMCA

The flags of Canada, the USA and Mexico

Given a generational opportunity to revamp NAFTA, the Trudeau government has fallen short on its promise to negotiate the modern, progressive trade deal that Canadians deserve. The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is anything but “progressive”, and it will set Canada back on critical priorities like Pharmacare.

CUPE applauds the elimination of Chapter 11, the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) mechanism from NAFTA, which CUPE has long fought to have removed, though it is regrettable that Mexico will remain subject to ISDS provisions. Under Chapter 11, Canada became the most-sued government in the developed world. Governments in Canada were sued almost 40 times for exercising and upholding their own democratic decision-making, dishing out close to $250 million in public money to private corporations.

However, it is disappointing that the agreement does not meet or even come close to the progressive benchmarks that the Liberal government set for itself on NAFTA. “Mr. Trudeau made a great show about negotiating strong, enforceable chapters on gender, labour, indigenous rights and the environment. But when push came to shove, he has come up empty-handed once again,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.

It is also extremely disappointing to see patent protections extended for biologics, which will drive drug costs up dramatically, and threaten the viability of a national Pharmacare plan. “The Liberals have talked a big game about Pharmacare and making life-saving medication more affordable for Canadians,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “But behind the scenes they’ve been complicit in allowing the cost of prescription drugs to skyrocket, and extending patent protections doesn’t help.”

Protect your OMERS Pension – Get the facts about the proposed changes

OMERS just had another high performing year.

  • Investment returns of a net 11.5 per cent – almost double required discount rate of 6.2 per cent and well above the strategic rate.
  • 2017 earnings of $9.9 billion were used to both lower next year’s discount rate and increase the plan fund.
  • The plan holds more than $95 billion in assets

Yet some at the Sponsors Corporation want to get rid of key benefits like guaranteed indexing. We can’t let that happen.

Click here to review the changes that OMERS wants to make to your pension

OMERS Changes Factsheet

Let OMERS know we must keep key benefits like guaranteed indexing so we can keep up with cost-of-living increases and live with dignity after we retire.

Send OMERS a message here

CUPE Task Force on Governance survey

CUPE members are invited to participate in a new online survey on governance.

At our 2017 National Convention, delegates adopted Resolution 36, which called for the creation of a Task Force on Governance to “conduct a comprehensive review of the governance and structure of our National Union.”

In March 2018, our National Executive Board confirmed the Task Force, which is made up of eight NEBmembers and eight CUPE activists who serve in elected positions at other levels of our union.

As part of our work, we are seeking input from CUPE members, locals and other chartered bodies.