October 23, 2018 — Today the Ford government announced legislation that will repeal or diminish almost all of the long-overdue reforms to employment standards and labour legislation that were achieved last year when Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, was passed by the previous government.
This announcement constitutes a colossal step backward for the rights of working people in Ontario. The entire labour movement, along with grass-roots movements like the Fight for $15 and Fairness, worked tirelessly for almost four years in support of the first significant reforms to labour and employment standards legislation in decades. Bill 148 contained major improvements for workers in areas like sick leave, vacation time, fair scheduling practices and equal pay for casual and part-time workers. It also would have increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour in January 2019.
It’s clear from today’s announcement, however, that the Ford government is determined to revert to a regulatory framework that is woefully inadequate when it comes to protecting the rights and working conditions of working people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who are trapped in low-wage, precarious jobs.
This action will negatively affect some OSSTF/FEESO members and many, many more of our students, through the impact on their own working conditions or those of their parents. It is a shame that the Ford government put the interests of a powerful business lobby ahead of the real needs of working people and their children.
OSSTF/FEESO calls on the Ford government to reverse this decision immediately, and keep its hands off the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.
September 12, 2018 — As many of you know, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday that he intends to invoke the constitution’s “notwithstanding clause” to override a court ruling that struck down Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act. A Superior Court Justice ruled earlier in the day that the Act infringes on the freedom of expression provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ford said that he will reintroduce the legislation this week, and will invoke the notwithstanding clause so that the constitutionality of the legislation cannot be challenged in court.
Ford’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause is unprecedented in Ontario, and is disturbing in the extreme. Even more disturbing was Ford’s statement to reporters that he would not hesitate to use the notwithstanding clause whenever he felt it necessary in the future. This is an astounding proclamation by the Premier of Ontario that his own legislative agenda takes priority over the constitutional rights of Ontarians.
The implications of this are serious for everyone in the province, including members of OSSTF/FEESO and all unions, whose rights to meaningful collective bargaining are guaranteed by the constitution.
I urge all OSSTF/FEESO members, especially those who live in ridings represented by government MPPs, to contact their local representatives by phone or by email and insist that they vote against this Bill when it is reintroduced in the legislature. Doug Ford is attempting to establish a very dangerous precedent, and we must make every effort to let him and his government know that this is simply not acceptable.
Harvey Bischof, President
June 8, 2018 — Yesterday the people of Ontario elected a majority Progressive Conservative government. While this is not the result that many of us were hoping for, our Federation respects the democratic process. On that basis, on behalf of our members, I extend congratulations to Premier-Designate Doug Ford.
OSSTF/FEESO will be reaching out to the new government in an effort to establish a meaningful dialogue. To the extent they are willing to support the work our members do on behalf of students from junior kindergarten to university, we can have a productive relationship.
We will also, of course, tenaciously oppose any policies or measures that seek to undermine publicly funded education, be it through underfunding or any other means.
With this government, as with any other, our objective will always be to protect and enhance publicly funded education in Ontario.