How to work for workers
It’s been a week since the Ontario election delivered a back-to-back majority government to Doug Ford’s Conservatives, based on the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history.
Democracy is shaped by how and if we vote once, every four years. It’s also about how and if we hold our governments accountable, every day. The first 100 days of a newly elected administration sets the tone.
September 10th will mark 100 days since election day on June 2. Will the Ford team take a long summer break, or roll up its sleeves and get to work, working for workers?
We are powerful when we hold this government accountable to its new rallying cry and slogan, “working for workers.”
Here’s three simple, practical ways Doug Ford’s team can honestly say they’re working for Ontario’s workers over the next 100 days.
1. Ten paid sick days: This week the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, told us we can expect a seventh wave of the pandemic this fall. Ensuring people can stay home when they are sick protects them and us from contagion. Paid sick leave is a way of working for workers when they can’t work.
2. Care Economy Workforce Strategy: Plan a decent work strategy that shows how we will attract, hire and retain enough nurses, teachers, personal care workers and early childhood educators to keep the publicly funded part of the Care Economy resilient and help us all thrive. (This plan has to go beyond hiring more temporary foreign workers!) It’s important to address the deficits in physical infrastructure like highways, hospitals, schools and childcare spaces. But deficits in our social infrastructure matter more. A hospital bed without nursing care is just a mattress; a daycare without an early childhood educator is just a warehouse; a long-term care facility without personal support workers is prison-like.
3. End misclassification of workers: Temp agency and app-based work is now extending to the Care Economy. Legislation introduced by Doug Ford’s team last year uberizes labour law, creating a subcategory of workers with fewer rights. “Working for Workers'' legislation needs to reach all of Ontario’s workers and stop the growing uberization of our workforce.
This isn’t complicated. Paid sick leave that protects the sick and the rest of us. A plan to have enough people providing the care we all need. Ending misclassification and the uberization of the workforce.
On election night, Premier Doug Ford said “this victory belongs to every worker that knows they deserve better!”
Workers in Ontario do deserve better. Every day of the next four years is a test of that promise. The first 100 days matter most.
Premier Ford says it’s time to roll up his sleeves and get it done. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make sure it gets done.
The Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers is supported by the Atkinson Foundation. Find more information here.