Premier Kathleen Wynne responded to a new study on precarious work, It’s More than Poverty, and committed to working together to find solutions. At a forum launching the report, Wynne told audiences: “if we want our industries and our economy to be doing well, we need people to be doing well. We need everyone to have good opportunities for employment.”
Premier Wynne added: “The stress of not being able to pay bills, of having to worry about keeping up with rent, obviously those are things that people shouldn’t have to contend with, and kids shouldn’t be affected because their moms and dads and family don’t have a consistent a opportunity to help them with the things that they need in their lives including homework and getting involved in their activities.”
Workers’ Action Centre has outlined 5 priorities for action for a good jobs, including an immediate increase in the minimum wage and cracking down on wage theft.
Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi was introduced by Premier Wynne as someone who would be working to make sure the government hears all the voices that need to be heard. Workers’ Action Centre has been documenting and sharing these voices. The next steps are clear, its time for Ontario to act.
WAC Members speak out:
Christian: Part-time work, unpaid wages
When I first came to Canada in the late 90s, it was pretty easy to get a stable job. Nowadays (especially after the 2008 recession), I feel that it’s not only harder to get a job but employers also try to exploit their employees. I barely see a post for a full-time position in retail – companies tend to just offer part-time as that allows them to reduce your hours whenever they want. When I started working at a major retail store, I had 37-40 hours a week, a year later everybody had their hours cut to 10 hours a week (some just 5 hours) making it really hard to pay rent, food and expenses.
Because of that experience, I decided to try working on a small company where people are more than just a number; to my surprise it was just as bad if not worse. I didn’t get paid for the hours I worked and had to go to the Ministry of Labour file a claim for unpaid wages. I had a friend report that he was fired because he brought up a health and safety concern about a small company’s warehouse. After that problem I got help from the Worker’s Action Center and got more familiar with labour legislation. Now that I think back, most of the jobs I worked in Canada violated some labour rights.
The problem is there are no major penalties applied with employers who break the law, even with repeat offenses. The government should enforce the law more than they are doing right now. If they see there is a repeat offender, they should open an investigation to see if there is more going on. I don’t think they do that right now – that’s the problem. There should be fines for offenders – and the fines should be increased. $1,000 is not a high enough fine that would make employers think twice. In the end they are still saving money by breaking the law.