OCBCC Submission on Bill 148

Aug 17, 2017

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care is Ontario’s central advocacy group for a universal, affordable, high quality system of early childhood education and care. Formed in 1981, the OCBCC is a member organization comprising non-profit child care centres, local and provincial groups and individuals from all across Ontario. Our members are early childhood educators and parents, centre directors, trade unionists and social activists. Most importantly people who care about child care.

Labour law reform is pertinent to the child care sector at this time for several reasons.  First, the early childhood educators and child care staff who work with children 0 - 12 years across the province in a range of programs are underpaid and undervalued.  Staff turnover is high, and retention of staff is a major challenge for child care employers.  Despite diplomas and degrees, nearly a quarter of Registered Early Childhood Educators make less than $15 an hour.  Implementation of Bill 148 would be an important first step toward a workforce strategy that ensures educators across the province have decent work and professional pay.  Second, but by no means less important, is Ontario’s Renewed Early years and Child Care Policy Framework.  Released in June 2017, this framework includes a commitment to transform the patchwork of early years and child care programs into an system providing 100,000 more children aged 0 - 4 with access to high quality licensed child care over the next five years.  

It is clear that there can be no provision of additional high quality child care without an expanded early childhood workforce.   The new Framework is developing a Workforce Strategy guided by an external expert that will provide clear direction on compensation, hiring and retention among other things.  Proposals in Bill 148 including increasing the minimum wage to $15. Per hour by 2019 and extension of Personal Emergency Leave to all workers support the new directions for early learning and child care that the province is pursuing.

Proposals in Bill 148 will also help to close the 30% gender wage gap in Ontario.  In 2016 when the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee traveled around Ontario holding public town hall meetings about how to close the province’s 30% gender wage gap, child care was the number one issue raised by Ontarians – both from the perspective of mothers and the early childhood workforce.

 

 

Early childhood educators and child care staff are among the workers across Ontario who have made it loud and clear that too many are working for low wages in part-time, temporary or contract jobs without employment benefits, workplace protection or the right to form, and keep, a union. For too many Ontario workers, full time work does not guarantee a life above the poverty line.  Income and job insecurity keep too many from making ends meet.

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) introduces many important changes to address Ontario’s outdated labour laws. The proposed changes in Bill 148 to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Labour Relations Act (LRA) provide a good start to addressing precarious work to deal with changing workplace practices.

However, we are calling for amendments to Bill 148 to ensure it can close the gaps and raise the floor of minimum standards for the highest possible number of workers in Ontario.

Millions of workers (and their families) in this province are waiting to see how your committee will pave the way to strengthen our archaic labour laws. We are calling on you to reject suggestions that will make work more precarious, under the guise of enabling flexibility for the kind of business practices that continue to exert downward pressure on the wages and working conditions of all workers.

The bulk of evidence shows that decent work is the foundation of a strong economy, better health outcomes, and reduced inequality. We disagree with those who suggest otherwise.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care supports the recommendations and amendments put forward in the submissions by: the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services, Decent Work and Health Network, Migrant Workers’ Alliance for Change, Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic and the Ontario Federation of Labour as part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness.

Sincerely,

Laurel Rothman, Interim Public Policy Coordinator

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

489 College St.

Toronto, ON M6G 1A5

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