Published on May 30, 2017
Thanks to the organizing of the Fight for $15 & Fairness campaign, we just won a $15 Minimum Wage in Ontario!
This is a huge victory that was only possible because of workers just like you who have been bravely speaking out against low wages and unfair working conditions. AND … we still have a lot of work to do to make decent wages, dignity, and fairness at the workplace realities for all.
Details of the announcement
$15 Minimum Wage The minimum wage will increase to $14 by January 2018, then $15 by January 2019. This minimum wage will apply to almost all adult workers – that includes you, caregivers!! BUT…farm workers still do not have access to minimum wage protections. We need to pressure Ontario politicians to make sure that everyone has access to a basic floor of rights.
Personal Emergency Leave This means that a worker who needs to take time off for any kind of emergency or illness is entitled to a minimum of 10 days of Emergency Leave, with 2 of those days paid. Starting January 1, 2018.
Unionizing Unfortunately, migrant workers were not mentioned at all in the government’s announcement today. Specifically, they did not make any changes that would allow for migrant caregivers and migrant farm workers to unionize. That means we have to push even harder to get them to listen to our demands that caregivers and farm workers should be able to organize into unions.
Enforcement The Ministry of Labour is increasing their staff to handle complaints filed by workers under the Employment Standards Act. They are also forcing employers to pay interest on stolen wages, as well as on illegally charged recruitment fees. But they could be doing more! We need proactive enforcement and protections for migrant workers.
What Can I Do?
Call or write your MPP
Your MPP is the Member of Provincial (Ontario) Parliament who represents your neighbourhood, also known as your “electoral riding.” To find a list of MPPs, go here. To find out which electoral riding you are in, enter your address here.
Here are some ideas of what you could say to your MPP:
Hi, my name is [name is optional] ___________________________and I live in your riding of _______________________________.
I am calling because I am excited about the changes to Ontario’s labour laws announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne, in particular the $15 Minimum Wage, the Personal Emergency Leave, and the increased fines for employers who violate workers’ rights.
I work with migrant workers who are some of the most precarious workers in this labour market, and know very well that migrant workers need specific protections. While we are optimistic, we also urge you to consider that there is room to extend protections to all workers, including migrant workers. We hope that you will help us by proposing these changes to any upcoming legislation.
- $15 Minimum wage for ALL. That means no exemptions from minimum wages for agricultural workers or anyone else.
- Right to Unionize. We need to remove all exemptions and allow everyone to have access to a union. All workers, including migrant caregivers and farm workers, should be able to form unions.
- Enforcement. We need better, more proactive enforcement when employers break the law. We need inspections of the homes that caregivers live and work in. We need a faster process for resolving Employment Standards Act anti-reprisal claims when workers are at risk of being sent back home, and temporary permits while their claims are being processed.
Contact your local news outlets
There is going to be back-lash from the business community about the $15 minimum wage, and we need to counteract this with our words of why these changes (and more!) are necessary. Write a piece for your community newspaper, or write a letter to the editor for the Toronto Star at email@example.com or the Globe and Mail at Letters@globeandmail.com about why you think a $15 minimum wage is a good thing! If you need inspiration, see the $15&Fairness website.
If you would like to get more involved with the Caregivers’ Action Centre and campaigns like this one, please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.