On October 23, the Doug Ford government introduced sweeping changes to the Employment Standards Act through Bill 47. The changes being introduced are a cause for great concern. They will inevitably impact upon our working conditions and those of our colleagues.
The change most directly affecting our University Community is the repeal of equal pay for equal work for casual, part-time, and temporary worker employee classifications. The abolition of these provisions from the Employment Standards Act gives the Central Administration a green light to continue its upward trend of hiring precarious workers, reducing our ability to protect our minimum complement in the next round of collective bargaining.
Bill 47 also curtails existing protections against sex-based pay discrimination. It removes the right of workers who believe they are victims of sex-based pay discrimination from asking their employer to correct discrepancies without reprisal.
The legislative change also has direct repercussions for our Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) colleagues who are working on amalgamating their multiple bargaining units. Teaching and research assistants as well as markers, who are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 2626, will also be impacted should Bill 47 pass. Our workload and working conditions are intimately tied to those of our colleagues.
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association (OCUFA), along with the APUO, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA), the Faculty Associations at Algonquin College and at La Cité, and Fight for $15 and Fairness are organising a rally at the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Constituency Office at 10 a.m. on Friday November 2. We encourage all Members to join the rally and to invite their students to participate in this action.
Here is a summary of other notable changes introduced to the Employment Standard Act through Bill 47:
- Cancelling of the scheduled January 1 increase to $15/hour and freezing the minimum wage at $14/hour for the next 33 months. Minimum wage increases tied to inflation to restart in 2020.
- Replacing card-based union certification with a secret ballot vote.
- Repealing rules mandating employers to share employee contact information during a union certification drive.
- Removing employee protections for those who engage in union certification drives.
- Repealing the power of the Ontario Labour Relations Board to review and consolidate certified bargaining units.
Personal Emergency Leave:
- Reintroduction of provisions allowing employers to require employees to provide a medical note from a qualified health practitioner for taking sick days.
- 10 paid personal emergency days repealed and replaced with 3 unpaid days for sickness, 3 unpaid family emergency days, and 2 unpaid bereavement leave days.
Equal Pay for Equal Work:
- Repealing equal pay for equal work for part-time, casual, temporary workers and assignment employee status (temporary help agency status).
- The government is reducing administrative penalties for employer-contraventions of the Employment Standards Act.
Bill 47 is a step backwards for Ontario workers. It proposes of series of changes that will harm a significant proportion of the Ontario population, as well as reversing what should be considered basic rights for precarious workers across the province. The APUO strongly encourages our Members to join us for the rally on November 2. If Bill 47 is adopted, we can reasonably expect future legislative changes that will impact our own collective agreement and the Ontario postsecondary education sector as a whole.