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Government report falls short on workplace improvements, French says

Changing Workplaces Review makes 173 recommendations for improving provincial work conditions

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

After more than two years, the provincial government has released a report detailing what needs to change in Ontario workplaces.

The report, dubbed the Changing Workplaces Review, makes 173 recommendations on improving work conditions in the province, including allowing more professions to unionize, going harder on rule-breaking employers and expanding entitlements and job protections for vacation and family leave.

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, however, says she does not believe the report addresses the complaints that she has been hearing.

“It’s missing, I think, a lot of what we’ve been hearing from our community groups and partners. There’s a lot that we don’t see in it, and we’re hoping that can still be a part of the changes that end up happening in Ontario,” she tells The Oshawa Express.

“We’re glad to finally have the conversations, though, and have the review completed and know what it is that we’re talking about in terms of specifics.”

Among the things missing from the report were easing the pathway to creating unions or establishing a higher minimum wage, according to the Oshawa MPP.

“We’ve been calling for a $15 minimum wage in no uncertain terms. We’ve been hearing that call for a fair wage…from community members for years. To not see that as one of their recommendations maybe was surprising. But this review, while welcome, it falls short in those important areas,” she says.

“The $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, it should be easier to join a union. When we look at the landscape of precarious work and knowing that union jobs with predictable and fair wages and benefits, for that pathway into the middle class, we need to make it easier to join a union.”

In a statement, Kevin Flynn, the province’s labour minister, says the Liberal government will be taking the recommendations put forward in the report to changing how people work in Ontario.

“Ontario’s economy is strong and growing. Our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 16 years, and our GDP growth continues to lead all G7 countries. But with the rapid modernization of the workplace and new technology, people across Ontario are feeling less secure. We have heard from many people that they are no longer able to count on full-time, secure work to provide for themselves and their families. Many people work multiple jobs, on contract or in unstable positions with unreliable hours or pay,” he states.

“What is clear to me, and to our government, after reading the report is that responsible change can ensure that every hard-working person in our province has the chance to reach their full potential. Fairness and decency must continue to be the defining values of our workplaces.‎ No person in Ontario should ever feel like they can’t get ahead.”

According to national media report, the provincial government intended to table legislation on Tuesday, May 30, with proposed changes in response to the Changing Workplaces Review. The details of that legislation was unavailable prior to press time.

Lorne Coe, the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, declined to comment on the report, saying he wanted to wait until legislation is introduced before speaking on the matter.