All three parties introduced amendments to Bill 148. Because the Liberals have a majority government, theirs is a decisive vote.
Of note, the NDP tabled many progressive amendments. Unfortunately, the substantive changes they proposed, which would have built a framework for decent work in Ontario, were not adopted. They should be congratulated for their leadership and desire to make this legislation as beneficial to Ontarians as possible.
Opposition to decent work is real. The big business lobby including Metro, Loblaws and Magna corporations are campaigning against the $15 minimum wage and against Bill 148 in its entirety. We need to stay strong and mobilized in anticipation for the further amendments and a provincial election in 2018.
We were concerned that the push back from the big business lobby would have meant that some of our gains could have been lost. The PC party wanted an economic impact study and the phase-in of the $15 minimum wage to be much longer. They did not win either of these changes, and that is good.
Overall, we made some gains, but we also saw a couple of setbacks.
Highlights of what we campaigned to fix under Bill 148 and won!
Labour Relations Act:
Consolidating bargaining units: We had major concerns with Bill 148 allowing the labour board to involuntarily consolidate bargaining units with different bargaining agents. This would have been incredibly divisive for workers. That section was amended and fixed.
Employment Standards Act:
Contracting out of the ESA: Many unionized workers would have stood to lose gains made under the ESA if their collective agreement was in violation of the new law. That was amended to allow for union members to receive the higher benefit under the ESA – after a certain time frame.
Leave for Survivors of Domestic/Sexual Violence: we have been campaigning for 10 paid leave days for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence and 60 unpaid days. The government amended Bill 148 to include a section for up to 15 weeks unpaid. We still need the days to be paid but this is a very important move in the right direction. Let’s keep going!
A few setbacks that we can still win:
Equal pay for equal work language was weakened to include more loopholes for employers.
The time period to access automatic first contract arbitration was lengthened.
We can still fix these changes!
Ontario Federation of Labour