The North Bay Labour Council is calling on the Ontario government to take better care of precarious workers.
A letter was sent to Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli on October 7 which was World Day for Decent Work. The letter outlines how those in contract work, low-wage and precarious employment situations have faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that child care and paid sick days are often not given to workers.
Jared Hunt, Vice President of the North Bay Labour Council says that the pandemic has shone a light on why legislation needs to be written to protect precarious workers.
“Given the timing of things with COVID-19, we’ve been seeing people talking about what kind of communities we want when the economic system that puts profits first before people doesn’t work. When it fails us, what kind of future do we want?” he questioned.
Hunt adds that the front line workers who have been praised throughout the pandemic are not being adequately taken care of.
“Women make up the majority of the service work that happens on the front lines like caring for elders and children, hospital work, long term care work, education… It was obvious that they were feeling it. How do you be at home, do your job and care for your children while schools are closed?” he said.
The Labour Council is hoping that the provincial government will consider adjusting the Employer Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act during the 2021 budget deliberations to guarantee things like paid sick days and parental leave for those in precarious or low-wage labour situations.\
“Why make multiple levels of employment? When things are bad, the workers are impacted the most,” Hunt said.
During the previous Liberal provincial government, Hunt says that there were plans in place to address the issues facing precarious workers as part of a number of employment promises which included increasing the provincial minimum wage.
When the PC government took over in 2018, Hunt says that they stripped “80 to 90 percent” of the Liberals’ ideas, which included capping the minimum wage at $14 an hour.
MPP Vic Fedeli’s office was contacted for comment in regard to the Labour Council’s letter and subsequent requests. A statement was sent back citing the PC’s government’s COVID-19 wage top-ups for frontline workers and other investments made from the provincial government to help out Ontario workers.