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This Labour Day is a special one for Ontario. 

Our out-dated labour laws are under review.

Whether or not you’re in a union, if you work for a living, these changes to Ontario’s laws will affect you.

Anyone working (or looking for work) today can see that the landscape of the employment world has changed dramatically in recent years. It’s harder than ever for Ontarians to make a living, get job security, and to have fair treatment at work.

The workers I meet with across the province tell me about difficult conditions. Some work contracts and never know whether their next shift will materialize, or they cobble together several jobs to keep their families fed. Others drag their kids to work with them because short notice scheduling makes it impossible to find a babysitter. Some see workplace violations but don’t dare complain for fear of losing the next contract. This isn’t decent work.

It’s been almost two decades since the last review of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and the Labour Standards Act.  

Right now we have a once-in-a-generation chance to make sure our labour laws treat workers fairly.

This is a great opportunity — a chance for all workers, whether they’re unionized or not, to demand that the government protect our rights. 

This Labour Day, pledge to join in to make certain that our government changes its employment laws to meet the needs of Ontarians.

The OFL has told the government that employers need to offer permanent jobs, not contract after contract. Workers need schedules at least two weeks in advance so that they can plan for things like childcare and elder care. Minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. It should be easier to join and keep a union.

This fight is for ourselves, but also for future workers.

I have grown children who are out in the labour market today. They face challenges that didn’t exist when I was coming up. I want to change the law for them and for all workers. 

When you see kids heading out the door for school this year, remember that they are going to be walking out the door to work soon enough. If we make ourselves heard now, we can make sure that when those children get out into the work world, they have decent jobs and are treated fairly.

Advocate for decent jobs. Talk to your friends and colleagues about the workplace review. Write to your MPP. Don’t accept that precarious work is ordinary. There’s no reason that Ontarians can’t have decent jobs. I urge you to get involved. All Ontarians can benefit if we work together.

Now is the time get involved and make sure that Ontario’s young people don’t end up working from contract to contract, without paid sick days, or find themselves keeping quiet about workplace violations for fear of losing a precarious job. 

Ontario’s employment laws are out-dated. They don’t take the new work world into account. It’s great that the government is open to making changes. Let’s make sure they make the changes that will work best for Ontarians.

This Labour Day, make a commitment to stand up for workers across Ontario.  The work world has changed, and our province needs labour laws that will protect workers in this new market.

Let’s work together and tell our government to make it fair. Now is the time. Imagine what we will accomplish.

Chris Buckley is the President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Image credit: Sarah Jordison.

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