New Democrats introduce comprehensive labour law reforms

Horwath determined to improve working conditions for all

QUEEN’S PARK, ON – On Wednesday at Queen’s Park, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tabled sweeping labour amendments aimed at improving the working conditions – fixing the areas in which Kathleen Wynne’s labour bill is letting people down.

Horwath and the NDP, determined to give workers a plan that delivers hope, introduced the same amendments at the committee stage, and even introduced some of them as separate bills in the legislature, although new protections for temporary workers and injured workers were added Wednesday. Wynne’s Liberals have put a stop to the changes, so far, joining forces last week with the Conservatives to block NDP legislation to give students and liquor servers the same minimum wage as everyone else in the province.

“I have no intention of giving up until these things become law.” Horwath said. “Ending exemptions that allow some workers to be paid less than minimum wage is the right thing to do. Giving everyone paid sick and personal emergency leave days, and enhancing the number of vacation days so they stay healthier – physically and mentally – is right for everyone in Ontario. And giving survivors of domestic violence the time they need to get medical care or find a safe place to live is critical.”

Horwath said new additions to her commitments focus on temporary and injured workers, including a new rule to make temporary workers employees after 90 days of work.

“Temporary and injured workers are some of the most vulnerable people in the province,” said Horwath. “If we want labour reform to focus on the rights of Ontario’s workforce, we need to take a hard look at how these groups are being treated unfairly today.”

Each of the NDP’s proposals would amend Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act.

“The reality of work, along with the cost of living, has changed in Ontario, and we need the laws to keep up. Temporary workers, liquor servers, and other working people should be able to get ahead of the bills and join the middle class,” said Horwath. “Ontario families deserve work-life balance, and no one should have to sacrifice their health – and the health of those around them – for the sake of their job. These are my values, before and after an election, and I’m going to keep fighting until we have a province that recognizes what workers are dealing with today, and puts in place a plan that makes life better for everyday families.”

Highlights of the NDP amendments include:

  • Three weeks paid vacation after the first year of employment, up from the current two
  • Ending exemptions that allow some worker categories to be paid less than minimum wage
  • Five paid sick or emergency days for all workers
  • 10 days paid leave for survivors of domestic violence to access medical care, find safe housing or participate in legal proceedings
  • Making it harder for employers to label long-time workers “contractors” instead of employees
  • Requiring temp workers to become permanent employees after 90 days of work
  • Requiring employers of temp workers to bear the same responsibilities as employers of all workers when a worker is injured or killed on the job
  • Protecting injured workers’ benefits from unfair clawbacks caused by deeming them eligible for jobs they never held
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