Community members described problems getting paid, low wages and a “trap of endless temp work” during a community forum in Peterborough earlier this week. Finding decent work in a Peterborough is a challenge when cash jobs and unpaid hours are becoming increasingly common. Participants shared examples such as working at a restaurant but being called an independent contractor, or what it’s like to work in a call centre where the fear of speaking up to improve conditions is widespread.
The stats back-up the growing concern about work. Armine Yalnizyan described how Peterborough has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, with less than half of the population working.
Community members identified the need for information and training on our rights, but also a voice to fight for better wages and working conditions. There was a lot of excitement about setting up a local Workers’ Action Centre in Peterborough, a project being supported by local community groups.
Meanwhile, a report released this week echoed a similar story in Hamilton. The report by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton found that part-time and seasonal work had increased in Hamilton by 38% since 1976, compared to a 16% increase in full-time work.
These numbers highlight the urgency behind a good jobs strategy for Ontario, which must include a minimum wage that brings workers out of poverty and protection against wage theft. Earlier this week, Premier Kathleen Wynne described how the new Minister of Labour, Yasir Naqvi, would help “ensure all the men and women of Ontario have access to a good job and a bright future.” For workers in Peterborough, and in other communities across Ontario, this has never been more critical.