On June 7, Ontarians elected the Progressive Conservative Party to manage the provincial government for the next four years. This ends a 15-year run for the Liberals as the ruling power, and it’s likely that the new government will have some major changes in mind about how to operate Ontario.
Members of provincial parliament can have a direct and significant effect on our workplaces. Over the next months, CLAC will be engaging regularly with elected officials from all parties and with staff at various government ministries and agencies. As always, we will bring to their attention the concerns and insights of our members as well as reasonable solutions to everyday workplace problems.
Whether it’s a bridge or a road, a windfarm or a school, a hospital or a new OPP station, many CLAC members are working on construction projects that are funded in whole or in part by the province. In recent years, the province has begun to explore whether its investments into major projects can be used to better stimulate work opportunities for targeted individuals. These initiatives are (or will be) captured in community benefit agreements, which are entered into by the province, the builder(s), and community associations. Often, these agreements are primarily focussed on creating meaningful jobs in construction for individuals who come from the local community or from groups that are underrepresented in the construction trades.
Over at some of CLAC’s healthcare locals, the union’s leaders are watching closely to see how the new government will address funding formulas in the long term care sector. PSWs and registered staff are struggling under the ever-increasing and more complex care needs of elderly residents, and they’re hoping that the new government will ensure that public dollars can be more efficiently spent in those facilities and directed to where it’s needed most—at the front lines. This new government has committed to adding 30,000 new long term care beds over the next 10 years, which will also create work opportunities for many of our members employed by general and trades contractors.
The provincial government is also responsible for the rules that govern our workplaces, such as the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act. The outgoing Liberals made significant changes to things such as minimum wages and hours of work rules. Labour laws set out rules for how unions and employers interact, rules that establish how collective bargaining operates, and rules about how workers can join or change unions.
In recent years, CLAC has attended many hearings and meetings, and made written submissions about how these rules can be updated for the benefit and protection of workers. We’ve also called on the government to ensure workers enjoy the ability to collectively join and change unions. Most notably, CLAC has demanded changes that will allow CLAC members (and nonunion workers) the right to work on construction projects in municipalities that are closed to workers who don’t belong to the various international Building Trades Unions.
As we approach government leaders, it’s important that we can speak with confidence and authority on behalf of the more than 5,000 CLAC members working in Ontario’s construction sector. We recently asked members to complete a short survey so that we can collect your thoughts and identify your priorities. Thank you for your input, which will help us to serve you effectively as we move forward together.