It’s never too late to do the right thing
Publish date: Wednesday, November 03, 2021 presidentsMessage
I taught my sons from a young age that it’s never too late to do the right thing. I hope yesterday's announcement is a sign Ontario’s government is starting to realize that, too.
Yesterday, the provincial government announced a plan to bring the minimum wage in Ontario—to $15 per hour on January 1, 2022 – three short years after canceling the previous governments same commitment.
And while any increase is welcome, I note that it still falls well short of this year’s living wage rates—the hourly income needed to cover only the most essential costs of living. In my former home in London, that rate is $16.55 per hour, while in Toronto, it’s as high as $22.08 per hour.
The reality is that anything less is a poverty wage.
And with recent cuts to pandemic supports and ballooning costs of living, workers need living wages now more than ever before.
Some critics decry this move from the current government as “electioneering” or “pandering” to workers seven months out from a provincial election.
Personally, I’m less interested in the motivation or partisan politics, and more interested in seeing meaningful results for Ontario workers. I want to see the government of the day do the right thing for the people it serves.
Doing the right thing would mean bumping up that minimum wage to a living wage. It would mean making paid sick days a permanent right for every worker in Ontario. It would mean protecting exploited workers in the gig economy. It would mean making it easier to join a union.
It would also mean immediately repealing Bill 124, the inaccurately named Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act.
This legislation caps public sector wage increases at a maximum of one per cent a year for three years—including for unionized workers as their contracts expire. This will affect nearly every AMAPCEO member as early as next year.
This bill steamrolls the constitutionally protected rights of hundreds of thousands of public servants in Ontario. AMAPCEO is a founding member of a coalition now 40 unions strong that has launched a constitutional challenge against the bill. Similar legislation in this province and in others have been overturned.
And while we await our time in court, we will continue to work to secure the best possible contract for members. One bargaining team—representing members in the Ontario Health – Quality Unit—is already at the table, and six others will begin negotiations next year.
We’re already seeing the disastrous results of Bill 124 in Ontario’s health system, where it has worsened pressures on the province’s nurses after decades of cuts and underfunding and the crisis of the pandemic. AMAPCEO stands in solidarity with Ontario’s nurses and their fight for fairness.
If it’s not too late to increase minimum wage, then it’s not too late to institute a living wage, to grant all workers paid sick leave and to repeal Bill 124 and treat Ontario’s professionals with the respect and fairness we deserve.
President & CEO
More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).