Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act 2018

The Carleton Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) offers services, advocacy, and community for over 3,900 graduate students at Carleton University.

We work to ensure graduate student representation throughout the university, and advocate at the municipal, provincial and federal levels on issues including affordable education, accessible public transit, research funding, academic freedom, and ending rape culture.

The GSA Carleton fully supports the recommendations in the submission by the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services.  We also support the submission by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

The Ontario government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, on October 23, 2018. Bill 47 repeals most of the updates to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act that were passed in 2017 through the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148). Unlike Bill 148, the government is pushing Bill 47 through with little consultation with those workers most reliant on our basic labour laws. The changes brought in by Bill 148 were modest, but crucial steps forward.

 

We strongly recommend the complete withdrawal of Bill 47.

 

We want to remind you that the first phase of the two-year long Changing Workplaces Review involved 12 public consultations across Ontario with over 200 presentations and 300 written submissions. The second phase of the Review involved stakeholder meetings, an academic advisory committee, 10 commissioned academic studies, and 280 written submissions leading to a 419-page final report with 173 recommendations. The Review involved substantial information and resources from the Ministry of Labour.

The Resulting Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, underwent two rounds of Standing Committee Review including 11 public committee hearings across the province after first reading and three days of public hearings after second reading.  The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act took some modest steps in updating and modernizing Ontario’s labour laws. The long-standing gaps in labour market regulation have left too many workers in low-waged and precarious work with little protection of wages and working conditions.

The provisions that Bill 47 seeks to repeal are not ‘job killers’. Since the ESA was updated last November, Ontario’s unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level since 2000; 139,000 net jobs have been created year-over-year; and, job and wage growth outstripped the rest of Canada in low-wage sectors such as food and accommodation.  In fact, market analysts from major banking institutions note that the persistence of strong sales and profits in a tight labour market makes the current economy quite capable of absorbing the minimum wage increase.

The current government states that it is dedicated to efficient and effective government practices. However, rolling back the ESA and LRA is not efficient or effective government practice. Weakening labour standards will create upheaval for employers and employees. Over the past year, employers have spent considerable time updating their human resources policies and modernizing their employment practices. Employers and employees alike have already planned for the legislated increase in the minimum wage. The changes to the personal emergency leave provisions, including reducing access to paid and unpaid sick leave, will increase the spread of disease with increased costs to Ontario’s health care system and to employers. Further, by re-introducing the red tape of doctor’s notes, Bill 47 will result in significant additional costs that are unnecessary and wasteful.

We reiterate our strong recommendation that the government immediately withdraw Bill 47 in its entirety.

Sincerely,

Helia Doutaghi, Vice President External  

 

Graduate Students’ Association

600 UC-1125 Colonel By Drive

Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6

 

Email: vpx@gsacarleton.ca

Phone: 613-520-6616

Website: gsacarleton.ca