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					    Rights
Policy Document
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................ 1

PREAMBLE................................................................................................... 2

HUMAN RIGHTS ........................................................................................... 3
  Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans-Identified Workers (LGBT)..................................... 3
  Racism, Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Hurts Everyone ........................................... 5
  Racial Discrimination .................................................................................................... 6
  Racism .......................................................................................................................... 6

PAY EQUITY ................................................................................................. 6
  Elimination of Pay Equity by Legislative Pen ................................................................. 8

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ...................................................................... 10
  Montreal Massacre, December 6, 1989 ........................................................................ 10
  20 Years Later – Are Women Any Safer? ...................................................................... 10
  Women Helping Women .............................................................................................. 11
  Workplace Violence ..................................................................................................... 13
  Changing Laws, Changing Society ............................................................................... 14

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.................................................................... 15

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS - LABOUR RELATIONS .................................... 16
  Changing Labour Market............................................................................................. 16
  Employment Standards Act .......................................................................................... 17
  Labour Relations Act .................................................................................................... 18

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ...................................................................... 20
  Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) .................................................................................. 20
  Coverage ..................................................................................................................... 20
  Deeming ...................................................................................................................... 21
  Increase Average Earnings Amount from 85 percent to 90 percent of Net Average
     Earnings. ............................................................................................................... 21
  Remove Cap on Compensation Benefits....................................................................... 21
  Remove the Age Cut-off for Future Economic Loss (FEL) and Loss of Earnings (LOE)
     Benefits.................................................................................................................. 21
  Loss of Retirement Income (LRI) .................................................................................. 22
  Non-Economic Loss (NEL) ........................................................................................... 22
  Employment Benefits .................................................................................................. 22
  Restriction on Entitlement for Mental Stress ............................................................... 22
  Time Limits ................................................................................................................. 22
  Appeals Tribunal ......................................................................................................... 23
  Independence of the Appeals Tribunal (―Policy Binding‖ Provision) .............................. 23
  Preference for Single Vice-Chairs ................................................................................. 23
  Bipartite Board of Directors......................................................................................... 23
 Occupational Disease Panel (ODP) .............................................................................. 23
 Scheduling Diseases.................................................................................................... 23
 Name of the Board ...................................................................................................... 24
 Labour Market Re-Entry (LMR).................................................................................... 24
 Secondary Victims....................................................................................................... 24
 Valuing the Lives of Workers without Dependants ....................................................... 25
 Return to Work (RTW) ................................................................................................. 25
 Return to Work Training Agency ................................................................................. 25
 Eliminate Experience Rating ....................................................................................... 26
 Eliminate Apportionment ............................................................................................ 26
 Improve Occupational Disease Adjudication ................................................................ 26
 Prevent Privatization ................................................................................................... 26

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT ............................. 27
 Reprisal Protection ...................................................................................................... 27
 Labour‘s Health and Safety Resources......................................................................... 27
 Precautionary Principle ............................................................................................... 28
 Scents ......................................................................................................................... 28
 Harassment and Violence ............................................................................................ 28
 Sharps ........................................................................................................................ 29
 Agriculture .................................................................................................................. 29
 Occupational and Environmental Health ..................................................................... 29
 Coalition Building ....................................................................................................... 29
 Clean Production......................................................................................................... 30
 Water is Life ................................................................................................................ 30
 Environmental Restoration .......................................................................................... 30
 Protecting Food Sources .............................................................................................. 31
 Waste .......................................................................................................................... 31
 Reuse .......................................................................................................................... 31
 Green Procurement ..................................................................................................... 31
                                  RIGHTS
                                            This paper‘s recommendations will be
                                            followed by an intense action plan that
      EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                     will include labour‘s agenda to advocate
                                            for improvements to all workers‘ rights
                                            and changes to public policy to benefit
                                            our members and their communities.
The Ontario labour movement has a
long history of fighting for workers‘       The Rights policy paper will cover the
rights. The Ontario Federation of           following issues:
Labour (OFL) and our affiliates have
succeeded in winning rights at the             Human rights
bargaining table, in legislation and
through the courts.                            Women‘s rights
The Rights policy paper              both      Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and
acknowledges workers‘ gains and the             Trans-Identified peoples‘ (LGBT)
reality that unions continue to fight for       rights
justice around issues concerning
labour relations, health and safety,
                                               Aboriginal peoples‘ rights
employment and pay equity, violence
against women, and discrimination
                                               Racialized peoples‘ rights
based on gender, age, race, sexual
orientation, gender identity, disability
                                               Persons with disabilities rights
and other factors related to their work.

The Rights policy paper emphasizes             Health and Safety rights
that as trade unionists, we must never
take for granted the fact that the very        Labour relations and employment
foundation of so many of our rights and         standards
workplace laws were hard fought. We
must continue to link with our                 Workers‘ compensation
community partners, educate our
members, negotiate and ensure strong
enforcement of legislation.

The purpose of this policy paper is to
highlight and examine the struggles
and wins that have affected workers.
This policy paper will also address the
challenges that the labour movement
will continue to face when fighting for
workers rights to be addressed in an
equitable way with positive results.




                              Policy Document – Rights                             1
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


                                             pregnant women, new mothers and
             PREAMBLE                        disabled workers.

                                             The labour movement is keenly aware
                                             that no right must be taken for granted.
The labour movement was founded on           We must continue to educate, negotiate
the principles of justice, dignity and       and ensure strong enforcement of
equality rights for all. We have             legislation.
organized, mobilized and linked with
community partners to win legislative        The OFL‘s first constituency is the
rights for human rights in addressing        750,000 Ontario unionized workers
discrimination and to ensure equality        whose organizations are affiliated. The
protections for all Ontarians. We have       labour movement‘s vision is that every
won piece by piece human rights              Ontarian has a democratic right to:
legislation, pay equity, health and
safety, workers compensation, the right      •   access to Workplace Safety and
to join a union and basic employment             Insurance Board (WSIB) legislation
rights.                                          that entails full coverage;
A right is rarely given. Each right we       •   a fully democratic and inclusive
have today was formed from years of              workplace, society and community;
struggle.    Many times, as trade
unionists, we have had to challenge          •   a fair, fully accessible workplace and
ourselves to define rights and address           society free       from harassment,
systemic discrimination.                         discrimination, racism and violence
                                                 against women;
We recognize that legal rights do not
ensure full dignity and equality. We         •   enforceable health and safety in
know that communities have won legal             their workplace and community;
recognition over the years yet continue
to face discrimination in our society.       •   an    environmentally        sensitive
Women won the vote in 1918 but still             workplace and society;
face a 0.29 cent per dollar wage gap
compared to men. Aboriginal peoples          •   a workplace where employment
still fight to enforce treaties and              standards are expanded and fully
struggle for housing, jobs, health care,         enforced    by   the   provincial
water and safety. People of colour and           government;
immigrant people are underemployed
and underpaid compared to their white        •   universal child care;
neighbours.
                                             •   access to free, publicly-funded
Achieving legal rights is not the end of         education and training;
the struggle. Unionized workplaces use
legislative rights as a floor to             •   universally accessible, portable and
bargaining-up.       In non-unionized            publicly-funded health care;
workplaces, legal rights are a ceiling
which is precarious at best. In this         •   join a union, free from employer
recent economic downturn, we see a               interference and repercussion;
disturbing new trend of layoffs targeting
                                             •   affordable housing; and


2                                Policy Document - Rights
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


•   access to public, not privatized          The very foundation of the labour
    utilities, i.e. water and electricity.    movement is legal, economic and social
                                              equality. From the hindsight of history,
Above all, women in Ontario have the          one lesson is very clear – so long as the
right to achieve pay equity in their          rights of even one person are abused,
workplace.                                    reduced or absconded – then the
                                              freedom of all is in peril.
Moreover, equity seeking groups have
the inherent right to employment equity
measures     enforced    by   adequate
legislation   to     remedy   systemic                  HUMAN RIGHTS
discrimination.

The population in Ontario is comprised        Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans-
of every nationality, race, creed and         Identified Workers (LGBT)
colour. Some have escaped religious
persecution, some racial discrimination       2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the
and others poverty and oppression –           decriminalization of homosexuality in
but all have cherished the dream of a         Canada. Until 1969, it was a crime to
land where equality and opportunity           be gay in this country.
are valued.
                                              Over the last 40 years, the LGBT
Human rights are workers‘ rights.             community      has   made   significant
However, human rights issues from the         progress in Canada. The community
past are still with us. The rights of         has won important protection against
Aboriginal peoples, women, racialized         discrimination in human rights law and
people, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals,         legal recognition of same sex couples
trans-identified people, francophone          and equal marriage.
people and the rights of persons with
disabilities, along with other equity         The    labour    movement     laid  the
seeking groups are being violated or          foundation for basic rights at the
disregarded on a regular basis in the         bargaining table by winning contract
workplace and society as a whole.             language in the areas of anti-
                                              harassment and benefits. Our affiliates
Rights and human dignity have not             built upon that foundation through
been achieved fully even when we have         court challenges that won the rights for
supportive legislation. Constructive          benefits and pensions. Working with
change is achieved by unyielding              community coalitions, we added to our
activism for social change. It is a           list of victories with the passage of
question of giving substantive meaning        provincial and federal legislation that
to words by taking positive, proactive        provides for legal recognition of same
action. It is time for the labour             sex relationships and the inclusion of
movement        to     recognize     and      lesbians and gay men in federal hate
acknowledge our past and present              crimes legislation and marriage rights.
achievements and plan concrete future         Pride Day events occur across the
actions. The OFL and its affiliates need      province with ever increasing numbers
to act and act decisively.                    of union participants.




                                  Policy Document - Rights                           3
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


We know, however, that achieving legal       There are many LGBT senior citizens in
equality is not the end of the struggle.     Ontario. Quality elder care is an
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-            integral part of equality for lesbians,
identified members of our communities        gay men, bisexuals and trans-identified
still face the reality of homophobia and     people. Respect and acknowledgment of
transphobia in their daily lives. Gay        those who have suffered through years
and trans bashing is still a frequent        of oppression and bigotry, and whose
occurrence.                                  struggles for liberation meant the
                                             difference between living in the closet
Trans people have yet to win basic           and living in freedom, is an essential
rights in human rights law. They face        part of equality.
overt discrimination in the workplace
and society. Their right to access           We recognize that legal rights do not
necessary    medical   procedures  is        ensure full dignity and equality. We
precarious at best.                          know that other communities have won
                                             legal recognition over the years, yet
The OFL will continue to stand with          continue to face discrimination in our
these communities in demanding the           society. Women won the vote in 1918
inclusion of gender identity and gender      but still face a 0.29 cent per dollar wage
expression as a prohibited ground            gap compared to men. Aboriginal
under both the Ontario Human Rights          peoples still struggle to enforce treaties
Code and the Canadian Human Rights           and struggle for housing, jobs, health
Act. We are committed to continue our        care, water and safety. People of colour
work with the Canadian Labour                and        immigrant       people      are
Congress (CLC) to lobby for inclusion of     underemployed          and      underpaid
transgender in the federal Hate Crimes       compared to their white neighbours.
Legislation. Our affiliates are beginning
to win bargaining language that              LGBT people experience oppression and
includes accommodation and benefits          discrimination on the basis of their
for trans-identified workers.                sexual     orientation   and      gender
                                             identity/expression,   and      on   the
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-            grounds of their race, ethnicity, sex,
identified youth are among the most          linguistic background, ability, economic
vulnerable     members     of     our        circumstances or any number of other
communities.     They face hostility,        factors.
rejection and violence. Their suicide
rate is 14 times higher than other           Our work towards equality and justice
youths. Their experience in schools          for all members of the LGBT
and society can have a profound              communities           requires       an
negative impact on their well-being.         understanding of the linkages between
LGBT youth need and deserve an end           homophobia and transphobia along
to homophobia, gay bashing, physical         with other forms of discrimination such
and emotional assault, prejudice and         as racism, sexism, ableism and
bigotry.    School boards must be            classism. It also requires a commitment
proactive in their responsibility to         to work actively on all equality issues
ensure the safety and well-being of          facing members of our communities –
LGBT youth and children of LGBT              alone or in coalition with like-minded
parents. Our school curricula must           equality seeking groups.
include information about the LGBT
community.


4                                Policy Document - Rights
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


As an organization working for equality          Aboriginals were given the right to
and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual            vote at Confederation in 1867 but
and trans-identified people and their             with conditions. They had to give
families, the Ontario Federation of               up their treaty rights and Indian
Labour is committed to recognizing the            status in order to vote.
links between different forms of
discrimination and we stand together to          Chinese and Indo-Canadians were
challenge discrimination in all its               denied the right to vote until 1947.
forms.
                                                 African Canadians were excluded
The Ontario labour movement stands                from      employment,      schools,
together with our LGBT members, their             churches, restaurants, hospitals
families    and    their    community             and public transportation. Many
organizations to challenge homophobia             African    Canadians    lived    in
and transphobia.                                  segregated communities in Nova
                                                  Scotia, New Brunswick as well as
We must work together in solidarity               Ontario. Segregated schools existed
against all forms of discrimination               in Ontario until 1964.
because we truly understand that an
injury to one is an injury to all.
                                                 Recently, Islamophobia has emerged
Racism, Racial and Ethnic                         as the new contemporary form of
Discrimination Hurts Everyone                     racism.       It is described as
                                                  stereotypes, bias and acts of
The Legacy of Racism                              hostility towards individual Muslims
During the 18th and 19th centuries,               or followers of Islam in general.
colonial exploitation took place in parts         This     encourages      society   to
of the African, South American and                ultimately view Muslims as a greater
Asian continents. Historically, there             security threat on institutional,
have been racial, ethnic and religious            systemic or societal level.
groups who have suffered injustices,
including colonialism, slavery and               In 2008, 85 First Nation water
internment.        Racist beliefs and             systems were at high risk and there
attitudes were widespread and served              is no safe access to potable water.
to justify the exploitation of many               There are close to 100 boil water
peoples of colour. These actions and              advisories in various communities.
decisions were carried out to contribute          The access to safe potable water
to the political, economic and social             ensures the protection of the
development of colonies like Canada.              communities‘ health and well-being.
Some examples of colonialism in the               This would not be tolerated in any
past and present are:                             other community.

   The desire by white society to            Classism affects people not only on an
    assimilate, displace and segregate        economic level, but also on an
    Aboriginal peoples, as well as the        emotional level.     Classist attitudes
    suppression of their culture, i.e. the    cause great pain by dividing people
    formation of residential schools.         from one another, keeping equity
    The last residential school closed in     seeking     groups    from     personal
    1996.                                     fulfillment and the means to survive in
                                              society. These horrific injustices have



                                  Policy Document - Rights                           5
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


marginalized groups of people and left        Racism is different than racial or ethnic
permanent scars for generations to            discrimination.      When     discussing
come.                                         racism it is necessary to consider the
                                              unearned privileges, i.e. power, that
Racial Discrimination                         exists for members of the dominant
                                              culture. For example, if a non-targeted
There is an overall awareness and
                                              group wants to rent an apartment they
understanding that discrimination is a
                                              do not have to think about how they
human rights violation. Canada and its
                                              look. Will they be denied because of
provinces have a strong constitutional
                                              the colour of their skin?
law and systems in place; however,
racism, racial and ethnic discrimination
                                              Many workers genuinely feel that
continue to be a persistent problem for
                                              racism is something that labour
peoples of colour and Aboriginal
                                              sometimes covers up. Since its first
peoples.
                                              Convention in 1957, the OFL has
                                              debated and passed policies on the
The Ontario Human Rights Code
                                              issues of human rights, racism and
(OHRC) offers every Ontarian protection
                                              ending discrimination. The OFL, the
from racial discrimination, specifically
                                              affiliates and labour councils are a
in the realms of employment, services,
                                              collective of trade union activists. By
contracts, housing and vocational
                                              definition, all union activists should be
associations.
                                              human rights activists.       One of the
                                              labour movement‘s main commitments
The purpose of the Ontario Human
                                              should be to raise awareness, protect
Rights Code is to prevent the violation
                                              and defend the human rights of all
of human dignity and freedom through
                                              Ontarians.
the    imposition    of    disadvantage,
stereotyping or political or social
                                              There is still a definite need to develop
prejudice.   While racism is a social
                                              analytical skills to deal with instances
phenomenon, it is racial discrimination
                                              of discrimination, to learn and respond
that is a legally prohibited act (Policies
                                              instinctively    and    productively   to
and Guidelines on Racism and Racial
                                              attitudes, behaviours and actions that
Discrimination – OHRC).
                                              are evidence of discrimination and to
                                              raise awareness of the wide range of
Racism
                                              potential     examples    of   workplace
Racism operates at several levels:            discrimination, particularly racism.
individual, systemic, institutional and
societal.

Colour, ethnic origin, place of origin,                     PAY EQUITY
ancestry and creed are all used as
grounds for racial discrimination
according to the Ontario Human Rights
Code. In addition, race can intersect         Pay equity is equal pay for work of
with other grounds such as sex,               equal value. Men and women are
disability, sexual orientation, age and       concentrated in very different kinds of
family status to create compounded            work. Almost 70 per cent of women
experiences of discrimination.                workers are in clerical, education,
                                              health   care,   sales,   service  and
                                              administration jobs. While these jobs



6                                 Policy Document - Rights
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


are skilled, require high levels of effect,   because of the comprehensiveness of its
demanding working conditions and              model which combines legislative, pay
often involve heavy responsibilities,         equity bargaining, adjudicative and
they are generally undervalued and low        enforcement mechanisms to arrive at
paid. Study after study has shown that        an effective equity result.
when traditional women‘s work is
compared to traditional men‘s work on         Unions achieved the greatest successes
these four criteria, women‘s jobs, with       in redressing the wage gap for women‘s
the same value, are underpaid. A              work under the Act in terms of real
cornerstone of workplace equality is the      dollars.    This is because the Act
principal that if the value of the jobs is    required employers to negotiate pay
equal, then the jobs should receive           equity plans with any bargaining agent;
equal pay.                                    whereas non-organized employers were
                                              left on their own to redress the wage
Pay equity is the fundamental human           gap without any outside control unless
right of women workers to be paid             an employee filed a complaint. Unions
wages that are free of systemic gender-       played a particularly important role in
based discrimination that values the          negotiating plans to provide for pay
work of men more than the value of            equity in the traditionally low-paying
work done by women.         This basic        female ghettoized service occupations
human right has been upheld in                such as hospitals, nursing homes,
international commitments, and in             community services, shelters and home
federal and Ontario courts.                   support services.

Accessing pay equity rights can be            This is not to say that Ontario‘s law, its
prevented in a number of ways: weak           enforcement       and      pay     equity
enforcement;      absence    of   public      adjustments funding process does not
education on pay equity rights; funding       have     weaknesses.     It    is   these
cuts; and a more brutal method – the          weaknesses that undermine pay equity
stroke of a legislative pen.                  rights.

Pay Equity is the law in Ontario. 2008        In the last fifteen years, the government
marked the 20th Anniversary of                or the Pay Equity Commission has not
Ontario’s Pay Equity Act. No other            conducted       any   public    awareness
single law in Canada has resulted in          campaigns to ensure working women
such concrete results for so many             know their right to equal pay. Many
working women right where it counts,          Ontario working women are unaware of
in their pay cheques and later, in their      the right to pay equity and ongoing
pensions. Women who received these            maintenance of pay equity plans.
adjustments were able to better support
themselves, their families and the            Refusal by the government to fund
communities in which they live.               public sector pay equity adjustment
Recognition of the value of their work        obligations erodes economic rights. Pay
contributed to empowering women and           equity has been achieved for some but
increasing their self-esteem.                 not nearly for all women in Ontario.
                                              Women workers in the proxy sector –
Ontario‘s pay equity law continues      to    such as child care workers – have not
be internationally recognized as one    of    achieved pay equity. These women are
the world‘s most effective laws         in    still waiting for their full pay equity
redressing the wage gap.        This    is    adjustments      to   be    paid    out.



                                   Policy Document - Rights                           7
                              Ontario Federation of Labour


Adjustments are limited to one per cent        The women‘s movement, along with the
of annual payroll which can take               labour movement, under the Equal Pay
another 20 or more years.                      Coalition, organized and won pro-active
                                               pay equity law in Ontario. Thousands of
It is critical to the future successful        workers in female-dominated jobs saw
implementation of pay equity in Ontario        significant wage increases ending
to address the needs of non-unionized          decades       of     systemic      wage
women. Often disadvantaged not only            discrimination. This law includes an
by gender, but also by race, ethnicity         important right to maintain pay equity
and disability, non-organized women            plans. It is critical that all union
have, for the most part, been unable to        bargaining committees make sure that
effectively access the benefits of the         pay equity plans are kept up-to-date
legislation. Supports must be given to         and maintained as is our legal
non-organized women, such as funding           obligation under the Act. We need to
for pay equity legal clinics.                  exert the rights we have fought for and
                                               won.
We know that legislative rights are
important but equally important is the         Elimination of       Pay    Equity     by
enforcement of rights.        An expert        Legislative Pen
commission and hearings tribunal is
essential to effective enforcement. Pay        The Harper government is a clear
Equity    Commission      staff provide        example of an anti-woman, anti-
valuable advice to employers, unions           equality government. They have cut
and non-organized employees in ways            funding    to   equity    groups;     cut
that helped avoid unnecessary costs,           enforcement of legislation; and, with
reduce time and promote consistency.           the stroke of their regressive legislative
                                               pen, removed equality rights.
The Harris years saw major cuts to the
Pay Equity Commission. The McGuinty            Their latest attack on women‘s equity
government has continued the under-            was the ―pay equity‖ bill as part of the
funding and under-staffing.                    2009 Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-
                                               10). The budget bill will prevent women
Pay equity is not a privilege or a frill. It   in the federal public sector from
is the law. The rights of those doing          receiving equal pay for work of equal
―women‘s work‖ to be paid the same as          value.
the value of those doing ―men‘s work‖ is
a fundamental human right which is             The      Public    Sector        Equitable
guaranteed by provincial human rights          Compensation Act effectively eliminates
laws and by international commitments          women‘s ability to pursue pay equity
made by Canada to ensure women‘s               complaints by forcing them to file
equality in employment. We need                complaints as individuals. With the
legislation expanded to ensure the             resources of their employer (the
elimination of wage discrimination             government) arrayed against them,
based on race, ethnicity and disability.       women will have to fight their way
We also need a Pay Equity Commission           through a one-sided contest that would
and Tribunal that has the resources to         clearly be a mockery of justice.
ensure pay equity is achieved for all
women workers in Ontario. We must
continue the fight for proxy funding
through legal and political action.


8                                   Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


PSAC‘s analysis of the Public Sector         help people who work for Crown
Equitable     Compensation         Act       corporations or in other federally-
undermines pay equity in the following       regulated workplaces.
way:
                                             Canadian women and all equity groups
   It transforms pay equity into an         are alarmed that workers will lose the
    ―equitable compensation issue‖ that      right to challenge gender-based wage
    must be discussed at the bargaining      gaps under Human Rights law. The
    table – even though fundamental          Public Service Alliance has filed a court
    human rights should never be             challenge on the constitutionally of the
    negotiable.                              Equitable Compensation Act for the
                                             Harper Government actions to break
   It makes it more difficult to claim      collective agreements and deny women
    pay equity, by changing the              in the federal public sector the right to
    definition of a ―female predominant‖     pay equity.
    job group to require that women
    make up 70 per cent of workers in        Pay Equity advocates know that this
    the group.                               new Harper government scheme would
                                             make the current system much worse,
   It redefines the criteria used to        removing pay equity‘s status as a
    evaluate whether jobs are of ―equal‖     human right and opening it up to
    value, leaving pay equity up to the      market forces.
    fluctuations of the market and
    simply      reinforcing    systemic      In a thorough report, the Task Force
    discrimination.                          presented the government with over
                                             100 recommendations to improve pay
   It forces individual women to make       equity. Many of the recommendations
    pay equity claims without any            are modeled on Ontario‘s proactive Pay
    support – in fact, it would impose a     Equity Act and are supported by
    $50,000 fine on any union for            women‘s      groups    and      labour
    encouraging or assisting their own       organizations.
    members in filing a pay equity
    complaint.                               Effective pay equity laws are a critical
                                             tool in advancing equality rights for all
Pay equity is a fundamental human            women       and     other     historically
right that must not be taken away at a       disadvantaged groups. Along with anti-
bargaining table where the federal           discrimination and employment equity
government historically holds the            laws, increased minimum wages and
balance    of   power.   The   Harper        community advocacy, pay equity can
government has already demonstrated          help achieve real equality for all women
its commitment to legislating wage           in Canada.
increases and undermining collective
agreements.                                  The OFL will continue its work with the
                                             CLC, the national Pay Equity Network
The       Public    Sector   Equitable       and our affiliates to pressure the
Compensation Act is a regressive piece       federal government to repeal the
of legislation that will make it more        regressive  Public Sector Equitable
difficult to close the income gap            Compensation    Act    now    and    to
between women and men in the federal         implement the Pay Equity Task Force‘s
public sector. And it does nothing to


                                 Policy Document - Rights                            9
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


recommendations.       The government        A woman who lives on a single income,
also must take positive action to            or has lost her job, or is under threat of
eliminate the wage inequities that           losing her job, has limited options. She
women, workers of colour, Aboriginal         is forced by her circumstances to
workers and workers with a disability        return to an abusive situation. Studies
experience    in   federally   regulated     have found that women leave shelters
workplaces. Canada must have a               and return to abusive partners because
federal pay equity law as recommended        of a lack of housing and poor economic
by the Federal Pay equity task force.        circumstances which prevent them
                                             from meeting their children‘s basic
                                             needs.

     VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN                  Women experiencing workplace violence
                                             and harassment are often forced to
                                             remain silent for fear of losing their
Hard economic times are hard for             jobs.
women.     In every recession women
experience more violence in their homes      Violence against women is an equal
and at work.                                 rights issue. Understanding this is
                                             essential. It is the foundation for ending
Across Ontario domestic abuse services       male violence against women.
are noting an increase in women
needing their services. Region after         Montreal    Massacre,     December     6,
region report increases in domestic          1989
violence calls to police. More women         December 6, 2009, will mark the 20th
and children are trying to access            Anniversary of the tragic murders of 14
shelters and second stage housing.           young      women       at   the    École
                                             Polytechnique in Montreal because of
-    Durham Region, east of Toronto,         their gender. École Polytechnique is a
     showed a 24 per cent increase in        college. Two CUPE sisters working there
     appeals from women.                     were among the murdered women. The
                                             brutal     murders      at  the    École
-    Brockville police have seen a 100       Polytechnique jolted Canadians into
     per cent increase in domestic           acknowledging         that      physical,
     violence calls.                         psychological and emotional violence is
                                             a daily reality for women and children.
-    The Ottawa Carlton Sexual Assault
     and Partner Abuse Care Program          20 Years Later – Are Women Any
     has seen a marked rise in requests      Safer?
     for medical treatment.
                                             Why 20 years after those murders is
                                             violence still a daily experience for
-    The London area services are also
                                             women and children? Why is the need
     reporting increases in requests for
                                             for shelters increasing? Why are women
     help and services.
                                             still forced to stay in abusive
                                             relationships or return to them?
While the need for services will
continue to rise, there are also many
women who cannot leave abusive
homes or are forced to return to them.



10                               Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


Why are some of our sons, fathers,           enough of these programs, they
brothers,  male     co-workers and           indirectly support inequality and male
neighbours still abusing women and           violence.
children?
                                             When the immigration process requires
Gender inequality is deeply rooted in        that wives be ―sponsored‖ by their
our society. It grows into all of our        husbands; governments are creating
―systems‖: family, law, education,           the condition for some men to control
health, government, social programs,         their partners through threats of
employment, business and religion.           deportation.
Women experience this inequality in
their home, at school, at work and in        Women Helping Women
their neighbourhoods.
                                             All progressive work to end violence
                                             against women can be traced back to
A change in attitude – the way women
                                             the women who built the shelters, rape
are perceived and treated – would be an
                                             crisis centres, second stage housing
important benefit. But equality is not
                                             programs, crisis lines, women‘s centres
just about attitude. It is also about the
                                             and neighbourhood groups dedicated to
reality of where and how women live
                                             equality.
and whether they are free to make the
best choices for themselves.
                                             None of these initiatives grew out of the
                                             inspiration of politicians, policy works,
Keep a woman poor and you deprive
                                             academic authorities or professional
her of the freedom of choice.
                                             experts. All of them came from women
                                             working with and for women.
Pay her less on the job. Make her
responsible for the major share of child
                                             Shelters, rape crisis centres, second
care. Make it hard for her to get an
                                             stage programs, crisis lines, women‘s
education and job training. And, if she‘s
                                             centres and neighbourhood groups
managed to get them, keep her out of
                                             evolved naturally from the larger
‗good-paying‘ jobs or any job at all.
                                             women‘s movement on its march to
                                             equality. Women in the movement saw
These are the challenges facing women
                                             it as their duty to challenge an unfair
in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
                                             system by drawing society‘s attention to
Poverty     and      fewer    economic
                                             the direct relation between a woman‘s
opportunities for women guarantee that
                                             experiences of injustice and violence
they will continue to be seen as being
                                             and the material conditions of her life.
worth less than men. These conditions
                                             But right now all of this amazing and
also guarantee that escaping from an
                                             creative work, which has rescued many
abusive relationship or fighting back
                                             women from violence, is under threat:
against sexual or racial harassment at
work is harder for women.
                                                Women‘s      grassroots      frontline
Another way to keep women ‗in their              services and groups are poorly
place‘ is to provide them with little or         funded everywhere in Ontario. These
no public support and resources. When            services and groups have to engage
governments refuse to offer women                in fundraising to keep operating.
programs such as adequate social                 Unfortunately, it is not easy to raise
assistance, childcare, quality housing,          funds for such vital work.
education and legal aid or do not offer



                                 Policy Document - Rights                           11
                               Ontario Federation of Labour


    Women‘s services are not funded               Successive     governments     have
     within   an    equity     framework.           missed       opportunities      and
     Aboriginal women‘s shelters on                 implemented misguided policies in
     reserves do not receive the same               relation to violence against women
     funding as other shelters.                     because they have not consulted
                                                    grassroots women‘s groups which
    There are funding discrepancies                have a lot of knowledge on this
     between Northern and Southern                  issue.
     Ontario, rural and urban services,
     French language and other services,           Current government policy disperses
     etc.                                           resources based on the idea of
                                                    ―shared responsibility‖. What this
    The women‘s provincial anti-violence           means is that programs which are
     policy and program networks, which             not women-controlled also receive
     are organized by shelters, rape crisis         funding. Many of these programs
     centres, second stage programs,                have no understanding of the issue
     Francophone women‘s agencies,                  of violence against women or
     women with disabilities, women‘s               expertise in dealing with it and do
     centres and women‘s equity groups,             not provide inclusive services, which
     are provided with occasional grants            are anti-racist and anti-oppressive.
     or nothing at all. For example, the
     DisAbled Women‘s Network of                   Support of gender-neutral language
     Ontario has no funding and no staff.           and policy, which merely pays lip
                                                    service to ―women‘s equality‖, is
    Governments      provide   funding             undermining the work of grassroots
     (however inadequate) for managing              women‘s groups.
     the damage done by violence against
     women, but refuse to fund the                 Local service system coordination
     public advocacy and social justice             and management mechanisms are
     work necessary to stop it.                     funded while women‘s efforts to
                                                    work with each other are largely
    Funding is not readily available for           denied resources.
     women with disabled children and
     for    women      with     disabilities,      The     Government      refuses    to
     including those who are deaf. When             implement pay equity for women‘s
     funding is provided, it is seen as an          agencies. As a result, wages in these
     ‗add on‘ and does not cover all the            agencies are either low or frozen at
     needs of a project. This means that            levels which are below those paid
     agencies often have to pay for                 within community systems.
     accommodations       out     of   their
     existing grants, reducing the funds        Ending violence against women is a
     available for other services.              responsibility of our entire society. But
                                                to achieve this result, society must be
    In spite of a lack of funding, women       guided by the expertise and leadership
     advocates      still    contribute    to   of the women‘s movement, which has
     provincial,    regional     and    local   the best knowledge and experience on
     government           training       and    this issue.
     development projects.




12                                   Policy Document - Rights
                           Ontario Federation of Labour


To this end, governments should             Women who leave abusive men are
provide women‘s grassroots policy           especially vulnerable at work. An
groups and women‘s services with            abuser knows that he can always find
ongoing,    stable    and    adequate       his victim in her workplace. It is all too
resources. Further, women‘s advocates       common for women to be stalked,
and survivors of violence should be         harassed and, in extreme cases, injured
included in all policy and program          or killed at work. Their abusers are not
planning.                                   always employed in the same location
                                            as they are. But in some cases they
If the McGuinty government wants to         are. Lori Dupont, a nurse at Hôtel-Dieu
end violence against women, it must         Grace Hospital in Windsor, was
stop diminishing the importance of          murdered      in   her   workplace      on
women‘s shelters, rape crisis centres,      November 12, 2005 by her ex-boyfriend
second stage programs, neighbourhood        who also worked in the same hospital
women‘s groups, second stage housing        as a doctor.
programs,    women‘s    centres   and
women‘s        provincial       policy      Unions have bargained language into
organizations.                              collective   agreements    to   support
                                            working women who want to escape
The OFL has already joined the struggle     violence. This language provides for
to end violence against women. It is a      legal plans; leaves to go to court; help
member of the ―Step It Up‖ campaign, a      in finding new housing; child care; help
coalition of anti-violence, women‘s         to    heal without fear of being
equality,    poverty      and    labour     disciplined; the right to alternative
organizations. The ―Step It Up‖             work; to be accommodated if stalked by
campaign focuses on putting political       a violent partner; workplace women‘s
pressure on all levels of government. It    safety audits and Employee Assistance
continues to lobby for funding and          Programs.     Many     union   brothers
measures to end violence against            participate in groups such as Men
women and raises this issue in federal      Against Male Violence.
and provincial elections. The campaign
also investigates and analyzes the          However, working women not covered
barriers faced by advocates who             by a collective agreement must seek
support this issue.                         protection   from    the    Employment
                                            Standards Act to ensure they do not
Workplace Violence                          lose their jobs or are not disciplined
                                            and, when needed, the right to change
There is a direct link between violence
                                            their work schedule or location to avoid
in the home and its effect on women in
                                            an abusive partner.
the workplace. Not surprisingly, women
who experience violence in their homes
                                            Workplace harassment is a form of
have trouble getting, keeping or
                                            violence. Harassment in the workplace
performing a job. In June 2000, Gillian
                                            is not always sexual in purpose. It can
Hadley was murdered in her home by
                                            also focus on a woman‘s colour, her
the husband from whom she was
                                            Aboriginal status, the fact that she is a
separated.      The inquest into her
                                            lesbian, has a disability or is trans-
murder identified a direct link between
                                            identified. Women who pass under any
domestic violence and its impact on a
                                            of these titles are subjected on the job
woman‘s working life.
                                            to prejudicial words, actions and
                                            attitudes     which     reinforce     the



                                 Policy Document - Rights                          13
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


oppression they experience outside the        Further reforms are still necessary,
workplace. Such harassment can make           such as the following:
the workplace a dangerous and even
lethal place for these women.                    Employment Standards Act leave
                                                  provisions which will allow a woman
On June 2, 1996, Theresa Vince was                to keep her job while looking for new
shot to death by her harasser in the              housing, dealing with custody,
Chatham Sears store where she had                 divorce and other legal issues or
worked for 25 years. The inquest into             while taking the time to heal;
her murder called for immediate action
on workplace harassment.                         workers‘ compensation coverage for
                                                  chronic stress due to harassment or
In economic recessions violence in the            verbal and emotional abuse;
workplace escalates. Corporate greed to
maximize profits imposes heavy stress            the     Ontario   government, in
on workers, particularly on women in              collaboration with the OFL and
jobs where they have to provide services          women‘s groups must launch a
to angry or frustrated members of the             comprehensive public education
public. Women who are social workers,             anti-violence campaign.
service providers, receptionists, nurses
and teachers are especially at risk.          Unions have faced the challenge to end
                                              violence against women both inside and
Changing Laws, Changing Society               outside the workplace. But we in the
For over a decade, the OFL, unions and        labour movement must also review our
women‘s groups have called for                own structures, views and priorities to
legislative rights to protect women in        deepen our understanding of how
the workplace. We have lobbied,               gender violence intersects with racism,
appeared at inquests into workplace           ableism, homophobia and poverty, all of
deaths, launched public campaigns and         which marginalize women and make it
worked with the Ontario NDP to draft          more difficult for them to escape
private member‘s Bills.                       violence.

Finally, on April 20, 2009, we won the        Violence is a major obstacle to women‘s
fight for legislative reform. The Minister    equality and well-being. It affects not
of Labour announced amendments to             only its direct victim but also the
the Occupational Health and Safety Act        victim‘s family, friends, neighbours and
to help protect employees from                co-workers. The effects of violence
workplace violence and harassment,            spread like a virus, infecting all of
including domestic violence.                  society.

Bill    168,     amending     Ontario‘s       To protect our society we must
Occupational Health and Safety Act,           continue to bargain and strengthen
while a significant opportunity, at the       collective  agreements,       work   in
time of writing, the Bill needs               coalitions with women‘s equality-
amendments to make it helpful to              seeking groups for effective government
protect women subjected to violence in        action and to increase workers‘
the workplace. But it is only a part of       education.
the rights working women need.




14                                Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


We must keep before us a vision of           Many Ontarians with disabilities are
equality which embraces the whole            suffering in lives of poverty because
world and provides all girls and women       they have not had the opportunity to
safety    in  their homes, schools,          enter and stay in the paid labour
workplaces and in the streets of our         market.
cities and towns. We must believe in
this vision and make it real.                The challenge for many workers with
                                             disabilities is to get into the paid labour
                                             market. The challenges facing workers
                                             attempting to return to the paid labour
    PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES                market are addressed separately in the
                                             section of this paper dealing with
                                             Workers Compensation. The actual
A primary source of information              costs of accommodating workers with
regarding persons with disabilities is       disabilities in the workplace are quite
the Participation and Activity Limitation    reasonable.
Survey (PALS), which is funded by
Human       Resources     and     Social     Several years ago, the Canadian
Development Canada and carried out           Abilities Foundation put the cost under
by Statistics Canada.                        $1,500.00 for almost all workers with
                                             disabilities. The barriers facing these
The PALS latest survey for 2006              workers are systemic and attitudinal
notes that there were 2,457,350 people       rather than physical.
with activity limitations in Canada
between the ages of 15 and 64 who            Ontarians with disabilities are facing a
potentially could have participated in       variety of challenges to protect their
the labour force. Of this group,             rights and to play a full role in the
1,259,980 (51.3%) were employed,             economic and social activities of our
119,340 (4.9%) were unemployed, and          province.
1,078,020 (43.9%) were not in the
labour force.                                The Ontario Human Rights Code has
                                             been in force since 1962. However, it
The national disability rate increased       was in 1982, that there were legislative
1.9% from its level of 12.4% in 2001 to      amendments to ensure a legal ban on
14.3% in 2006. Between 2001 and              discrimination in the workplace and
2006, disability rates increased in all      access to goods and services for
provinces.                                   Ontarians with disabilities. Ontarians
                                             with disabilities were also guaranteed
In 2006, the unemployment rate for all       that their rights would be protected by
people with disabilities between the         a public investigation, prosecuted –
ages of 15 to 64 was 10.4%, higher           when needed, by a public law
than the non-disabled population at          enforcement agency – the Human
6.8%. People with hearing issues had         Rights Tribunal.
the lowest unemployment level of
10.4%.




                                 Policy Document - Rights                            15
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


The promise behind the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2006           EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
was to build on and not replace the                 LABOUR RELATIONS
rights protected under the Ontario
Human Rights Code. A broken promise
when the McGuinty government forced          Changing Labour Market
through An Act to Amend the Human
Rights Code, Bill 107, legislation which     The structure of the labour market has
sought to privatize the human rights         continued to shift. Private sector
enforcement process in this province.        unionization rates have dropped from
The Ontario Federation of Labour             about 30 percent in the 1970s to 19.2
opposed Bill 107. Unfortunately, the         percent in 1997 and to 16.6 percent in
concerns raised by the OFL and               2007. There has been a considerable
other groups are coming true as the
                                             rise in part-time, contract, and
OFL pointed out in a brief to the            temporary work – what is often called
Standing Committee on Government             precarious work. Hopes for a full-time,
Agencies in February 2009, when that         unionized good job for our working life,
body was examining the Human Rights          and retiring with a defined benefit
Tribunal of Ontario.                         pension have been shattered for many
                                             older workers. That hope seems out of
The Accessibility for Ontarians with         reach for many young workers. Fewer
Disabilities Act became law in 2006.         Ontarians are working full-time in full
The goal of this law is to have              year jobs, and fewer still in unionized
accessibility for all Ontarians by the       workplaces that provide protections,
year 2025. One of the tools found in         good wages and benefits.
this     legislation   is  to   establish
committees involving a diverse group of
                                             Even before the current economic
Ontarians to develop standards to
                                             crisis, Ontarians were working more
implement the goal of this legislation.
                                             hours for less money.1 Low-wage
The Ontario Federation of Labour and
                                             workers, especially women, immigrant
its affiliated unions have been involved
                                             and racialized workers are increasingly
in many of these standard development
                                             working in temporary, contract and
processes. The criticism of many
                                             part-time work, and juggling two or
Ontarians with disabilities is that the
                                             three jobs without employment benefits
standards must be more robust in
                                             or workplace protections.2 The impact
pushing Ontario towards accessibility.
                                             of these working conditions does not
The Minister should be encouraged to
                                             end at the workplace or the pay cheque.
build       on     the    work    already
                                             You cannot spend enough time with
accomplished, and listen to the
                                             your kids, and you cannot participate
disabilities communities for their
                                             fully in your community juggling this
recommendations        to   improve   the
                                             kind of work.
proposed standards.

Ontarians with disabilities would            There is a gendered and racialized
benefit    from   Employment     Equity      dimension to this inequality. 40 percent
legislation. They would also benefit, if     of employed Canadian women hold
the government talked to and more            precarious jobs.3 The gap in earnings
importantly listened to them on what is      between    recent    immigrants     and
needed to effectively protect their          Canadian-born workers continues to
human rights as Ontarians.                   widen. In 1980, men who had recently



16                               Policy Document - Rights
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


immigrated to Canada earned 85 cents          As trade unionists, we know that rights
for every dollar earned by Canadian-          have no meaning unless they are
born men. By 2005, that had dropped           enforced. Enforcement of the ESA
to 63 cents. The gap is even wider for        needs to be shored up. Just 20
women who have recently immigrated            Employment Standards Officers (ESOs)
to Canada, dropping in 2005 to 56             are responsible for enforcing the law in
cents for every dollar earned by              350,000 Ontario workplaces.6
Canadian born women — from 85 cents
in 1980.4                                     As a result, many workers in Ontario
                                              are in a labour market without
Employment Standards Act                      regulation and protection. Violations of
                                              basic standards, such as overtime pay
The Employment Standards Act (ESA)
                                              and the right to take a day off when
has a crucial role for all workers in
                                              sick, have become the norm rather than
Ontario. For unionized workers, it is
                                              the exception in many workplaces. This
the floor from which we bargain
                                              daily reality of employment standard
improvements in working conditions,
                                              violations normalizes them. These
pay and rights. For workers without the
                                              violations are almost expected and
protection of a union, the ESA has a
                                              accepted in sectors where there are
crucial role in protecting their rights.
                                              large numbers of new immigrants,
However, the ESA is failing in this
                                              racialized, women and low-waged
crucial role. This legislation has not
                                              workers.7 This lawlessness makes it
been updated enough to keep up with
                                              very difficult to organize. If workers
changes in the structure of the labour
                                              cannot     count   on     their    basic
market. And, existing rights in the
                                              employment rights being protected,
legislation are not being adequately
                                              they will have little faith in legal
enforced.
                                              protections for involvement in an
                                              organizing drive.
The ESA has not kept up with the
changes in the structure of the labour        The ESA is also an important vehicle
market. Many employers have moved             for political mobilizing and engagement.
work beyond the reach of regulation.          In recent years, the labour movement
Work that used to be done in-house            has been involved in coalitions that
and that is considered ‗low skill‘ or         have had two major victories with
‗labour intensive‘ is now outsourced by       respect to the ESA.
companies. Employers are hiring
indirectly through intermediaries such        The first of these was the minimum
as    nominal     subcontractors      and     wage campaign. After the 2003 election,
temporary      employment        agencies.    and 8 years of the minimum wage being
Workers      are      misclassified     as    frozen,   the     Liberal  government
independent contractors to bypass             committed to an increase of only 30
labour laws. These work arrangements          cents an hour each year. The labour
allow employers to shift more business        movement responded with a demand
costs onto workers who have little            for a minimum wage of $10 an hour.
power to refuse.5




                                  Policy Document - Rights                         17
                           Ontario Federation of Labour


The coalition working on this campaign      and employment standards rights;
included New Democrat MPPs, social          ensure temporary agency workers get
justice groups, labour groups, youth        the same termination and severance
groups, and academics. The campaign         protections as other workers; and,
spread across the province, using           require that both the agency and client
traditional media, the internet and         company are legally responsible when a
grass roots community organizing. It        worker is penalized for trying to enforce
connected     union    activists  with      their rights.9 In the 2009 budget, the
communities and non-union low-wage          government announced an increase of
workers. After a concerted effort, the      $4.5 million per year for funding
campaign met with success.                  Employment       Standards     Officers.10

In the 2007 budget, the Liberal             The labour movement is continuing to
government committed to increase the        work with our allies to push for more
minimum from $8 an hour to $10.25           comprehensive changes to update the
an hour in 2010.8                           ESA. This included working with NDP
                                            MPP Cheri DiNovo who introduced a
The second victory involved changes to      private Members Bill in May 2009 that
the ESA with respect to temporary           would expand rights for precarious
workers, and for an increase in the         workers and increase enforcement
number of Employment Standards              powers of Employment Standards
Officers. This was the result of a          Officers.11
concerted and lengthy campaign by
temporary workers themselves, working       Labour Relations Act
through vital community organizations       There have been a number of landmark
such as the Workers Action Centre. The      recent developments with respect to
fight for this legislation did not end      labour relations. The first of these was
with     its  introduction   into    the    the BC Health Services decision, where
legislature. Hundreds of community          the Supreme Court of Canada ruled
members, labour unions, immigrant           that the freedom of association
organizations and allies organized town     guarantee in the Charter protects the
halls in their communities, and             rights of workers to bargain together
distributed postcards and information       collectively. 12 In this decision, the
about the legislation when it was           Court overturned previous rulings in
introduced, and about the changes that      which the Court had found no such
needed to be made to it. Through this       protection for collective bargaining. In
campaign, some key amendments were          reversing itself, the Court stated that
won.                                        collective bargaining has become part of
                                            the Canadian social, political and
The new law is a good start in              historic fabric. The Court concluded
improving protection for temporary          that collective bargaining rights are
agency workers. The legislation will:       incorporated into the Charter as a
end fees charged to workers by              result of Canada being signatory to
temporary assignment agencies; reduce       international treaties and conventions
barriers to permanent work for              that recognize those rights.
temporary agency workers; ensure
public holiday pay for all temporary
agency workers; require agencies to give
workers information about assignments



18                               Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


                                             Despite these victories, the need for
The second development was a decision        Labour Relations Act reforms remains
by the Ontario Court of Appeal with          pressing. While union density has
respect to the rights of agricultural        remained stable in the public sector,
workers to organize. The Court agreed        private sector unionization rates haven
with the UFCW‘s challenge that the           fallen sharply.
Agricultural Employees Protection Act,
brought in by the Harris government,
                                             The combination of weaknesses in the
did not provide enough protection to
                                             legislation   and    enforcement,   the
the Charter rights of workers. The
                                             changing labour market and the
decision stated that ―Without a
                                             economic crisis has resulted in a
statutory duty to bargain in good faith,
                                             decrease in the number of unionizing
there can be no meaningful collective
                                             drives, and a decrease in the number of
bargaining process…In keeping with
                                             new workers unionizing. The last year
that goal, legislation dealing with
                                             that data is available shows there were
collective bargaining must provide a
                                             only 422 certifications in 2007-08 as
mechanism for resolving bargaining
                                             compared to 829 in 1993-94.         The
impasses.‖13
                                             share of applications that were
                                             successful was 51 percent as compared
This was a major victory for farm            to 73 percent in 1993-94.
workers in Ontario. However, instead of
respecting the decisions of the Courts,
the ILO, and the rights of farmworkers,           ACCESS TO UNIONIZATION IN ONTARIO
the Ontario government is appealing                                         % of
this decision to the Supreme Court.          Fiscal          # of                        # of
                                                                          Successful
                                              Year      Certifications                  Workers
                                                                         Applications

The third development was an advance        1993-94          829             73%         25,798
outside of the court room. In the fall of
2008, legislation permitting part-time      1994-95          762             77%         32,116
workers at colleges to unionize was         1995-96          510             67%         20,564
passed. This legislation, while flawed,
was the result of a successful four year    1996-97          387             59%         21,496
campaign by part-time college workers       1997-98          424             64%         21,049
supported by OPSEU to win the right to
be represented by a union.14                1998-99          415             62%         27,299

                                            1999-00          313             55%         19,763
These developments provide further
                                            2000-01          521             56%         36,901
recognition of the right to organize and
the right to bargain. They also show the    2001-02          307             45%         16,255
different routes to these successes both    2002-03          318             51%         14,026
through the courts and through
political mobilization. The trade union     2003-04          301             52%         12,173
movement       needs    to    use    this   2004-05          428             53%         11,610
legitimization from the courts and
                                            2005-06          352             53%         14,461
legislation to engage the public in a
discussion about the importance of          2006-07          420             59%         11,158
right to organize.
                                            2007-08          422             51%         13,617
                                            Source: Ontario Labour Relations Board Annual Reports
                                            1993-94 to 2007-08




                                 Policy Document - Rights                                    19
                                       Ontario Federation of Labour


NOTES:                                                      campaigns with more support from the
1993-94     (Bill 40: Reforms implemented)
                                                            broader community.

            (Bill 7: Restricts organizing, mandatory
1995-96
            votes, etc.)                                    The current recession and its aftermath
                                                            increases workers‘ needs for the
            (Minus SEIU/CAW displacements total is:
2000-01
            24,206)
                                                            support and protection of being
                                                            unionized. The changes to the labour
2005-06     (Bill 144: Reforms implemented)                 market structure outlined above will
* Each year there are a number of ―displacements‖ from
                                                            likely be even more pronounced. Our
one union to another. Exempted here is only the major       approaches to organizing will have to
―displacement‖ of SEIU and the CAW which totalled           continue to evolve to reflect these new
approximately 12,695 in the OLRB fiscal year of 2000-
01. This leaves a new certification total of 24,206 in      structures. We will continue to need to
that year.                                                  work for political change to support our
                                                            demands. And, we will continue to
* Percentage of successful applications are calculated as   build public support by working with
the number of certifications granted as a percentage of
total certifications disposed of by the OLRB.
                                                            the community and non-unionized
                                                            workers.

For the past year and a half, the OFL
has been working with the 25 in 5
Network for Poverty Reduction. The                             WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
Network has taken on and taken up the
importance of labour market policies in
reducing poverty. They have put
forward the following demands to the                        Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)
government with respect to labour law                       Employers have received a windfall
reform:                                                     benefit in the form of a 24.7 percent
                                                            rollback in their costs for workers‘
    Re-establishing successor rights for                   compensation coverage since 1995,
     unionized workers whose employers                      while injured workers are forced to live
     are contractors.                                       in poverty because their compensation
                                                            is not adjusted for inflation. In the
    Re-establishing                   card-based           same period, injured workers have seen
     certification for         all    workers in            their benefits reduced 19.5 percent due
     Ontario.                                               to inflation despite the 7.5 percent
                                                            increase given to them under Bill 187,
    Provide more protection for workers                    which gave them a 2.5 percent increase
     from reprisals and intimidation                        on July 1, 2007 and another 2.5
     because of their union activities by                   percent on January 1, 2008 and
     increasing the penalties for unfair                    January 1, 2009.         Injured workers
     labour practices to levels equivalent                  deserve full inflation protection now.
     to those of the proposed Employee
     Free Choice Act in the United                          Coverage
     States.                                                In a report prepared for the Workplace
                                                            Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) it was
This success in having a broad-based                        reported that 35 percent of workers in
coalition endorse our demands is                            the province of Ontario are not covered
significant. The labour movement will                       by the workers‘ compensation system.
increase success in its advocacy                            While the report recommended full


20                                             Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


coverage for all workers the government      Increase Average Earnings Amount
has     refused    to   implement     its    from 85 percent to 90 percent of Net
recommendations. Adding independent          Average Earnings.
operators and the service sector,
                                             Another important way in which
including     banks    and     insurance
                                             injured workers‘ benefits were affected
companies, would provide the system
                                             by the WSIA is the reduction from 90 to
with a steady income when the
                                             85 percent of net average earnings as
economy fluctuates.        All workers,
                                             the basis for wage loss benefits. This is
regardless of where they work or how
                                             a reduction which significantly impacts
they earn a living, should be covered by
                                             an injured workers‘ ability to maintain
the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act
                                             their pre-injury standard of living,
(WSIA).
                                             especially for workers affected by the
                                             COLA provisions discussed above and
Deeming
                                             the cap on benefits discussed below.
Section 43 of the WSIA 1997 allows the       The average earnings amount should be
Board to deem a worker to have               restored to 90 percent of net average
earnings    related    to   a    suitable    earnings.
employment or business and to set the
worker‘s loss of earnings benefits based     Remove Cap on Compensation
on such deemed earnings regardless of        Benefits
whether the worker has actually
                                             For workers with relatively high
secured employment after suffering a
                                             incomes at the time of injury, the
workplace injury.
                                             requirement that wage loss benefits be
                                             capped at a maximum on 175 percent
Although deeming was introduced to
                                             of the average industrial wage can have
the system by the 1989 amendments to
                                             a significant negative impact on an
the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA),
                                             injured worker and his or her family.
the current system allows for a level of
                                             The legislation must be amended to
deeming that disentitles a far greater
                                             remove the cap on wage loss benefits.
number of workers than under the
previous system. This is especially so
                                             Remove the Age Cut-off for Future
for permanently impaired workers.
                                             Economic Loss (FEL) and Loss of
Deeming in effect transfers the cost of
                                             Earnings (LOE) Benefits
many workplace injuries to other
provincial and federal social programs       The Ontario government has introduced
and thus to the taxpayers of Ontario         legislation to end mandatory retirement
and Canada.                                  and the discrimination it entailed for
                                             workers over age 65. However, it has
The Liberal government introduced Bill       allowed the provisions of the WCA and
187 on July 1, 2007 which the Minister       WSIA that allow wage loss benefits to be
stated would eliminate deeming. The          cut-off based on a worker‘s age to
WSIB developed new policies that             remain in place. The age cut-off for
actually made deeming worse. The Act         FEL and LOE benefits allows for older
should be amended to eliminate               workers who become permanently
deeming to ensure that the basis for         disabled due to a workplace injury to be
wage loss is calculated on the actual        discriminated against on the basis of
wage loss incurred after an injury.          their age.     The legislation must be
                                             amended to remove the age cut-offs in
                                             the Act.



                                 Policy Document - Rights                          21
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


Loss of Retirement Income (LRI)               does it provide compensation or any
                                              alternative   benefit plans.         This
Yet another reduction in the amount of
                                              adversely affects all injured workers
benefits for workers brought in by the
                                              and their families. Obviously the more
WSIA is the reduction in the amount
                                              severely injured a worker is, the greater
put aside from a worker‘s LOE benefits
                                              the adverse impact. The Act should be
to make up for the LRI. For workers
                                              amended to include a Board sponsored
injured between 1990 and 1998, an
                                              benefits plan for all injured workers
additional 10 percent of the worker‘s
                                              and their families.
FEL benefits is automatically put aside
until age 65. For workers injured after
                                              Restriction   on      Entitlement     for
1998 (i.e. those whose benefits are
                                              Mental Stress
determined under the WSIA), only 5
percent is put aside unless the worker        The WSIA restriction on entitlement for
opts to contribute an additional 5            mental stress is one of the ways that
percent out of their own benefit              some      workers   with     work-related
payments. If a wage loss system is            disabilities are kept entirely out of the
continued, restore LRI amount to 10           system. This is arguably a violation of
percent.                                      the equality provisions of the Charter
                                              and the Human Rights Code in that it
Non-Economic Loss (NEL)                       discriminates against mentally disabled
                                              workers based on the nature of their
The monetary awards allowed for under
                                              disability. As yet, this provision has
the NEL provisions are meant to
                                              not been successfully challenged.
compensate injured workers for the
                                              However, it is most definitely open to
pain and suffering caused by their
                                              challenge, and, while it remains in
workplace injuries.       However, the
                                              effect, it discriminates against an
amounts awarded are very small
                                              extremely vulnerable group of mentally
compared to the pain and suffering
                                              disabled workers. The Act should be
endured by injured workers who
                                              amended to remove the restriction on
become permanently impaired as a
                                              mental stress.
result of a workplace accident.
                                              Time Limits
These     small     awards    are    often
interpreted by injured workers as an          The introduction of time limits in the
affront to their dignity and sense of self-   system in 1998 has had a profound and
worth and are thought by many to ―add         negative impact on the system as a
insult to injury‖. If the dual award          whole.      Time limits are especially
system is retained, the base amounts          problematic for the most vulnerable in
for NEL awards should be substantially        the system and those with the most to
increased.                                    lose: permanently injured workers who
                                              face barriers in addition to their
Employment Benefits                           compensable injuries (i.e. language,
                                              literacy, physical and mental disability).
Injured workers who have an employee
benefits plan when working only
                                              Time limits add complexity to the
continue to receive those benefits for a
                                              system by generating more appeals and
maximum of one year post-injury. The
                                              more bureaucratic rules. They have
employer‘s responsibility ends at that
                                              made the system more formal and
point. The Board takes no account of
                                              legalistic and therefore less accessible
the impact of the loss of benefits, nor
                                              to injured workers. Time limits have



22                                 Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


arguably added administrative costs          Tribunal, further complicates the
related to the greater number of             system and leaves this aspect of the
appeals and the procedures created to        legislation, and at least some Tribunal
administer the system in the context of      decisions, open to challenge in the
time limits. In 2005 close to 10 percent     courts. The Act must be amended to
of Workplace Safety & Insurance              remove the ―policy binding‖ provision
Appeals Tribunal‘s (WSIAT) decisions         and restore the independence of the
were time limit decisions (287 out of a      Tribunal.
total of 2,969 for 2005).
                                             Preference for Single Vice-Chairs
For all agencies in the system it diverts
                                             The WSIA also significantly affected the
resources away from the main reason
                                             tripartite nature of the Tribunal by
they exist, which is to ensure that
                                             creating a preference for single vice-
injured workers receive the benefits and
                                             chairs sitting alone. This dilutes the
services they are entitled to after
                                             quality of decision making at the
suffering a workplace injury or disease.
                                             Tribunal, by leaving it up to one
                                             decision-maker alone without the
To the extent that the introduction of
                                             benefit of the experienced worker and
time limits has saved the system
                                             employer side-members contributions.
money, it is at the expense of injured
                                             The tripartite mandate to the Appeals
workers who have been cut out of the
                                             Tribunal must be returned and funded
system for missing a time limit to
                                             accordingly.
establish a claim or to appeal a negative
decision.    The legislation must be
                                             Bipartite Board of Directors
amended to remove time limits for
workers‘ claims and appeals from the         A bipartite Board of Directors must be
system entirely.                             established with half the members
                                             selected by organized workers and half
Appeals Tribunal                             selected by employers. The bipartite
                                             board selects the Board‘s Chairperson
There were a number of significant
                                             and would hire the Chief Administrative
changes brought in by the WSIA that
                                             Officer.    Both positions must be
affect the independence, accessibility
                                             responsible to the workplace parties.
and fairness of the Appeals Tribunal.
These     are     set    out     with
                                             Occupational Disease Panel (ODP)
recommendations below.
                                             In the area of occupational disease
Independence      of   the    Appeals        research    and    the    creation    of
Tribunal (“Policy Binding” Provision)        adjudication support material for
                                             occupational disease claims, the system
A    significant   restriction  on    the    suffered a significant loss when the
Tribunal‘s        jurisdiction       and     ODP was eliminated. The Act must be
independence was introduced in 1998          amended to re-establish and properly
in what has been referred to as the          fund the ODP.
―policy binding‖ provision: s. 126 of the
WSIA.      This provision requires the       Scheduling Diseases
Tribunal to apply Board policy in its
decision making and only allows it to        Though the Occupational Disease
deviate from Board policy under limited      Advisory Panel (ODAP) Report did a
circumstances.        This      provision    good job of outlining the legal principles
undermines the independence of the           that must be applied in adjudicating



                                 Policy Document - Rights                           23
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


occupational disease claims, it would         LMR. In addition, workers are simply
be significantly more helpful to workers      ―deemed‖ to have the wages related to
and their survivors if more occupational      the suitable employment or business
diseases    were    included    in   the      (SEB) chosen during the LMR process,
Schedules. The Act must be amended            regardless of what their actual post-
to require regular review and updating        LMR earnings are. This is true even
of Schedules 3 and 4.                         where a permanently impaired worker
                                              is never able to work again.
Name of the Board
                                              Further, in choosing a SEB for the
It is an important symbolic issue for the
                                              worker, there is no requirement that
worker community that the name of the
                                              the worker‘s personal and vocational
Act, Board and Tribunal be restored to
                                              characteristics    be     taken     into
their previous forms, i.e. Workers’
                                              consideration.     There is also no
Compensation         Act,        Workers‘
                                              provision allowing a worker time to do a
Compensation        Board,       Workers‘
                                              job search before their benefits will be
Compensation Appeals Tribunal. This
                                              cut-off.
would recognize one of the key
purposes of the system, which is to
                                              Finally, there are significant problems
provide compensation to workers who
                                              related to the quality of for-profit
are injured or made ill by their work. It
                                              primary      and    secondary     service
would also signify the government‘s
                                              providers, many of which have arisen
commitment to the founding principle
                                              since    the   privatization   of   LMR
of providing fair compensation. The
                                              (previously vocational rehabilitation)
legislation must be amended to change
                                              function.
the name of the Act, Board and
Tribunal    back    to    the    Workers’
                                              The responsibility for the ―vocational
Compensation         Act,        Workers‘
                                              rehabilitation‖ (VR) of injured workers
Compensation        Board,       Workers‘
                                              should be returned to the Board. Clear
Compensation       Appeals      Tribunal,
                                              rules need to be set out in the
respectively.
                                              legislation that requires a worker‘s
                                              personal and vocational characteristics
Labour Market Re-Entry (LMR)
                                              and job availability be taken into
There are a number of significant             consideration       in      determining
problems with the current LMR system.         appropriate VR services.
This part of the system primarily affects
permanently impaired workers and is in        The Act should also be amended to
critical need of reform. LMR in its           allow the Board to provide assistance
current form is designed to get workers       and payment of benefits for job search.
in and out of the system as quickly and
cheaply as possible, with little regard to    Secondary Victims
what happens to them when they
                                              In addition to the many workers who
complete LMR.
                                              develop occupational diseases due to
                                              exposures to hazardous substances at
The most significant problem relates to
                                              work, there are the secondary victims
the fact that the goal of LMR is only to
                                              (family members and those in close
get workers back into the general
                                              association to these workers) who
labour market and not to ensure that
                                              develop the same or related diseases
they actually manage to secure
                                              due to their exposures from the worker
employment when they have completed



24                                Policy Document - Rights
                             Ontario Federation of Labour


or the worker‘s clothing. A particularly      Return to Work (RTW)
poignant and devastating example of
                                              The re-employment obligation and
such a secondary victim is when the
                                              Early and Safe Return to Work
child      of    a    worker   develops
                                              (ESRTW) provisions were two important
mesothelioma from being exposed to
                                              steps in recognition of returning injured
asbestos from his or her parent‘s
                                              workers to safe, suitable and productive
clothes. The Act should be amended to
                                              employment. The historical practice of
allow for compensation benefits and
                                              shifting injured workers and managing
services to be provided to secondary
                                              their claim costs has not improved RTW
victims who contract an occupationally-
                                              outcomes. To affect significant changes
related disease due to exposure to
                                              and improve outcomes, the Board must
hazardous substances brought about
                                              promote        Disability      Prevention
by close contact with an exposed
                                              principles. The focus of an effective
worker.       In 2000, NDP MPP Peter
                                              return to work should be removing
Kormos introduced a Private Member‘s
                                              barriers that cause functional limitation
Bill titled Lynn Henderson‘s Law that
                                              by providing assistive devices and the
would      provide    compensation    to
                                              re-organization of work tasks and
secondary victims.
                                              environment using proven ergonomic
                                              strategies and therapeutic methods.
Valuing the Lives of Workers without
Dependants
                                              Joint RTW committees need to be
Currently, survivor benefits are tied to      legislated in all workplaces. The union
economic      dependency.         Family      must be formally recognized as a
members who were not financially              workplace party by the Board and the
dependent on their loved one who died         employer. Minimum training needs to
as a result of a workplace injury are left    be mandated by the Act. Workplaces
feeling that the worker‘s life is not         must be provided comprehensive and
valued by the compensation system or          inexpensive training regarding RTW
society. This is frequently the case          strategies and principles.
when a young injured worker loses his
or her life.                                  Return to Work Training Agency
                                              Funding needs to be provided to the
There is an extremely poignant sense of
                                              central labour body to develop and
loss when a young worker dies, but the
                                              deliver    comprehensive       training
emotional dependency of the family
                                              regarding     disability   prevention
members is not recognized or valued.
                                              principles  and    therapeutic     RTW
                                              practices.
The Act should be amended to allow, in
the cases where there is no relative who
                                              The OFL‘s Occupational Disability
was financially dependent upon the
                                              Response Team has a proven track
injured worker, for one lump sum
                                              record in this area.   The funding
payment to one from a list of specified
                                              agreement must include a long term
relatives (i.e. parents, sibling or
                                              commitment and not be subject to
grandparents).
                                              political whims.

                                              Funding should be provided under s.7
                                              of the Act so that the Agency is a
                                              designated entity.




                                  Policy Document - Rights                          25
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


Eliminate Experience Rating                  The Board must develop the capacity to
                                             expedite complicated entitlement issues
Experience rating for Schedule 1
                                             in a timely manner. The Board must
employers has been voluntary since
                                             adopt formal adjudicative practices that
1953 and mandatory since 1995. Yet
                                             are consistent with the legal principles
there is no empirical evidence that
                                             of causation. Imported criteria cannot
experience rating promotes investment
                                             be used to suppress entitlement. Much
in prevention or RTW strategies. In
                                             of the exposure criteria contained in
fact, experience rating promotes bad
                                             current policy is arbitrary and not
practices, as strategic and dubious
                                             scientifically supported.
practices lead an employer to financial
rewards faster than with proper
                                             For example, the Noise Induced Hearing
commitment and investment in health
                                             Policy requires five years exposure at
and safety and accommodation. The
                                             90dB over an eight-hour period or the
labour movement has called for the
                                             equivalent. Yet it is well recognized
elimination of experience rating for
                                             that hearing can be damaged by
years.
                                             prolonged noise exposure at much
                                             lower levels. Most other jurisdictions in
Eliminate Apportionment
                                             Canada have the exposure criteria at
The Act provides that, where an injury       85dB       and    the   World      Health
or disease has been contributed to by        Organization     states   that   hearing
more than one workplace, the costs of        damage can occur in individuals with
workers‘ compensation benefits can be        as little as 70dB exposure.
apportioned     between       responsible
employers. The legislation does not          Significant resources must be dedicated
give express or implicit authority to        in the research of work exposures and
apportion      worker        entitlement.    their contribution to disease.    More
Apportionment practices contradict           diseases must be scheduled.
common law principles. Yet the Board
and the Tribunal continue to apply           Presumptive     legislation     for   the
these practices on a case-by-case basis      construction trades is the next logical
or systematically by policy. The practice    progression. In the future most
of apportioning benefits is unlawful and     occupations should be covered under
must be eliminated.                          presumptive legislation.      This would
                                             eliminate much of the time associated
Improve Occupational Disease                 with    gathering    and      determining
Adjudication                                 historical exposure profiles.

Victims of occupational disease are          Prevent Privatization
stricken with the impact (functionally
and psychologically) of the disease and      The current strategy of the Board is to
then are forced to endure ridiculously       eliminate the unfunded liability by the
long periods of adjudication. There is       year 2014. Once the unfunded liability
no justifiable excuse why workers and        is eliminated, the compensation system
their families have to wait as long as       will be attractive to private insurance
two years for an initial decision from       companies.
the Board.




26                               Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


The government has made no secret of         The five OHCOW clinics provide a range
their desire to sell off portions or even    of occupational health services to
the entire compensation system. We           workers, joint health and safety
must begin mobilization now to defend        committees and many others. This
the privatization of our system. It must     includes the services of occupational
remain      publicly     delivered    and    physicians,    nurses,      hygienists,
accountable to the citizens of this          ergonomists and other professionals.
province.
                                             OHCOW has helped unions deal with
                                             large clusters of occupational disease,
                                             major ergonomic problems and many
    OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH,                     specific health and safety problems.
   SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT
                                             Both these institutions are governed by
                                             labour representatives and funded by
After a long struggle, workers gained        WSIB. Together they have provided this
the right to refuse work, to know about      much needed support for Ontario
hazards in the workplace or participate      workers and their representatives for
in the workplace on issues that              many years.
impacted their health or safety. The
struggle to have employers respect           These worker oriented institutions are
these rights continues.                      being undermined by the WSIB and the
                                             Ministry of Labour (MOL). The budgets
Reprisal Protection                          of both organizations have been
                                             flatlined for most of the past 10 years.
Labour   continues      to   fight   for     This has reduced resources which are
meaningful protection from reprisals for     vital to workers and to the labour
workers who exercise those rights.           movement. Adding to this is the
                                             Ministry of Labour‘s unwillingness to
Labour’s Health and Safety                   enforce the training requirements
Resources                                    under WHMIS and the certification
Over 25 years ago the labour movement        training for joint health and safety
recognized that workers and their            committee representatives. The WSIB
unions     needed    to have    trusted      has acknowledged that 60 percent of
resources and support to enforce their       Ontario workplaces are not meeting the
health and safety rights and address         certification   training   requirements
hazards in the workplace. We were able       under the law.
to gain sustained funding first for the
Workers Health and Safety Centre             Labour‘s ongoing efforts to gain
(WHSC), then the Occupational Health         recognition and improved prevention for
Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW).         occupational disease has demonstrated
                                             the need to establish new OHCOW
The WHSC provides training and               clinics in Northwestern and Eastern
information so workers and their             Ontario and other underserved areas. It
representatives can act with confidence      has also shown the need for additional
and competence on their legal rights         support from the WSIB on vital issues
and responsibilities as provided by          such as exit interventions for workers
Ontario‘s occupational health and            when their workplaces are closing
safety law.                                  down, identifying hazardous exposures



                                 Policy Document - Rights                         27
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


and     investigating     clusters    of     Substances that are sensitizers can
occupational diseases.                       cause a person to become allergic to the
                                             chemical as a result of repeated
Issues such as ergonomics, workplace         exposures or even from one large
violence prevention and linking return       exposure such as a chemical spill. Once
to work and prevention increase the          sensitized an individual need only be
need     for  effective training   and       exposed to a very small amount to have
professional services provided by the        a serious reaction. These reactions can
institutions labour has fought to            range from eye and respiratory
establish and maintain.                      irritation to nausea and dizziness up to
                                             serious breathing difficulties.
Precautionary Principle
                                             Although immediate consequences of
The    precautionary    principle    is      exposure to many fragrances are known
recognized as a means to advance             for those who are sensitized to the
worker rights to safe and healthy            chemicals, there has been little testing
workplaces and, by extension, healthier      of chemicals used in perfumes and
communities.                                 other scented products as to the long
                                             term health consequences for users and
It was also recognized by the SARS           others exposed in the environment.
Commission and was listed in the first
three recommendations. This principle        Organizations     are     beginning   to
provides    for    more     meaningful       recognize that a scent free working
involvement of workers in decisions          environment is needed to help protect
which affect their health and safety. It     the health of sensitized individuals.
shifts the burden so that emerging
hazards such as nanomaterials would          Harassment and Violence
have to be addressed before they are
introduced into the workplace, workers‘      It appears that issues of harassment
bodies and the air we breathe, water we      and violence in the workplace are
drink and food we eat. It would require      finally being recognized by the Ontario
a greater respect for workers‘ health        government. After a long struggle, the
and their role in the workplace and          Ontario      government      introduced
community.                                   legislative changes to the Occupational
                                             Health and Safety Act which, if passed,
Scents                                       would recognize       harassment and
                                             violence as workplace hazards that
Increasingly, workers are becoming           employers      must     address.    The
sensitized   to   chemicals     in   the     government has also acknowledged that
environment. Synthetic compounds             domestic violence brought into the
used to manufacture perfumes and             workplace is a health and safety issue
other scented products are a chemical        for the workers in that workplace.
soup of toxic industrial substances.         These proposed changes represent
Many are listed on the Registry of Toxic     progress but significant amendments
Effects of Chemical Substances with          are needed to adequately protect
the Center for Disease Control in the        workers from harassment, bullying and
U.S. as toxic substances. Some               violence in all its forms and from all
substances used in perfumes are              sources.
known irritants or sensitizers.




28                               Policy Document - Rights
                           Ontario Federation of Labour


It will be an ongoing struggle to ensure    In   Dryden     construction   workers
employers recognize and respect a           working at an operating paper mill
worker‘s right to harassment and            found themselves working in the plume
violence free workplaces.                   of the mill‘s stack resulting in acute
                                            and lasting health effects.
Sharps
                                            Labour‘s     vision   for   a    healthy
Action is also being taken to protect
                                            environment has been founded on
workers from the biological exposures
                                            sustainability. By this we mean a
caused by hollow bore needles used in
                                            sustainable      economy,    sustainable
health care. The protection needs to be
                                            employment, sustainable production
expanded to include these requirements
                                            and the public services that support a
for all other medical sharps in all
                                            just and sustainable society.
workplaces where there is a risk of
exposing     workers    to   dangerous
                                            Sustainability involves reducing our
biological hazards.
                                            reliance on toxic substances in the
                                            workplace through toxic use reduction,
Agriculture
                                            substitution strategies and extended
Many of the factory farming operations      producer responsibility requirements.
in Ontario are now covered under the        Labour understands that some jobs will
Occupational Health and Safety Act but      be lost in a move towards sustainable
the government broke their promise to       work. A meaningful Just Transition
bring about sector regulations to           program for workers and communities
address hazards specific to the sector.     affected must be a legal right if workers
                                            and communities are to be spared the
Occupational and Environmental              devastation that comes with the loss of
Health                                      good paying union jobs.
Labour understands that workplaces
are   not   disconnected   from   the       The Precautionary Principle needs to
community, toxic substances and             become integrated in the primary
emissions cross property and political      decision-making process dealing with
boundaries; stress travels with the         public and private proposals that could
worker both ways. Advancing worker          impact the environment. It also needs
health and environmental health go          to be integrated into a worker‘s
hand in hand. If workers are not            environmental rights. Just as workers
healthy then it is a sign that the          need meaningful reprisal protection in
community is not healthy.                   workplace health and safety issues,
                                            workers need reprisal protection when
Workers need an occupational health         they refuse to pollute or report their
registry to track exposures at work and     employer      for      violations    of
the illnesses that result.                  environmental legislation.

Construction workers have little of the     Coalition Building
occupational health protection provided     A number of unions recognize the
to other workers in Ontario. Sometimes      importance of reaching out to other
construction work takes place next to       organizations and building coalitions.
an air pollution source. In these cases     Labour needs to work at strengthening
this pollution source becomes their         coalitions and community connections
occupational exposure.



                                 Policy Document - Rights                         29
                              Ontario Federation of Labour


between     labour   and   environmental       the tap in their homes is not fit to
groups.                                        drink. A lack of proper sewage
                                               treatment facilities, agricultural animal
Examples of this include Blue Green            waste and toxins leaking into the water
Canada and Great Lakes United. Blue            table from dump sites or agricultural
Green Canada is an alliance between            runoff are some of the ways that water
the     United    Steelworkers     and         can be made unfit to drink. Water is life
Environmental Defence working in               but governments refuse to recognize
partnership to support the development         access to clean drinking water as a
of good green jobs as part of a new            fundamental     human      right. Rural
green economy. Great Lakes United is           communities       and     First    Nation
an international coalition dedicated to        communities understand firsthand the
preserving and restoring the Great             value of the clean drinking water most
Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem             others don‘t even consider when they
whose members include environmental            turn on their taps.
groups, unions, labour councils and
others.                                        Conservation of clean water needs to go
                                               hand-in-hand with conservation of
Clean Production                               energy. Retrofitting to reduce water use
                                               can be done while retrofitting to reduce
Ontario needs a public institute to deal
                                               energy consumption.
with issues of toxic use reduction and
green chemistry, so we can move
                                               More than 40 million people live in the
forward on clean production. The
                                               Great Lakes Basin which holds 20
principles of clean production involve:
                                               percent of the world‘s fresh water. It
                                               seems a limitless supply, yet 99 percent
    Preventative Approach
                                               of the water was deposited there when
                                               the glaciers melted – just one percent
    Right to Know                             comes from rain and snow melt.
    Right to Participate in Decisions         What goes into the Great Lakes, stays
     Affecting Public                          in the Great Lakes. Toxic chemicals,
                                               invasive species, global warming and
    Occupation,     and   Environmental       consumption demands are some of the
     Health                                    major threats to the health of the
                                               waters that 40 million people and many
    Precautionary Approach                    jobs depend upon.

    Extended Producer Responsibility          Environmental Restoration

    Citizen      Responsibility        for    Environmental restoration of our lands,
     Sustainable Consumption                   water, wetlands and forests would
                                               mean a reinvestment in public services
Water is Life                                  to research the solutions and co-
                                               ordinate the work. The land, through
The right to clean drinking water in the       which rivers and creeks run, needs
workplace was a fight that unions, in a        trees to shade them and reduce the
number of sectors, had to take on for          water temperature in the summer so
their members. Today, in some                  that native species of fish can return.
communities, the water coming out of           Wetlands are natural filters and



30                                 Policy Document - Rights
                            Ontario Federation of Labour


breeding grounds or nurseries for many       The greatest source of mercury
native fish, birds and other wildlife.       contamination in the Great Lakes today
Forests need to be replanted as              comes from the sky. Coal fired
diversified ecosystems that support          generators and incinerators release
wildlife rather than single species of       mercury into the air which then falls
trees planted for easy harvest. These        with the rain.
are silent forests devoid of the wildlife
that once lived there. These forests are     As the government moves to ban the
also very vulnerable to invasive insects     incandescent light bulbs made in
because without the predators found in       Ontario in favour of the florescent
diversified forests the insect population    lighting tubes and Compact Florescent
explodes and can soon destroy entire         Lights, concern is growing about the
swaths of forest.                            impact from the mercury they contain.
                                             The lights are still part of the household
Protecting Food Sources                      waste stream. Recycling is possible.
                                             However, the facilities to handle the
Some work has been done to protect
                                             volume being purchased do not yet
farm land in southern Ontario from the
                                             exist.
urban sprawl of the Greater Toronto
Area; but farmland in other parts of the
                                             Reuse
province is under threat.
                                             Reuse stores which sell secondhand
In urban centres there are often small       building products and construction
parcels of land that could be used for       materials reclaimed following building
food crops. There needs to be support        renovations, are becoming popular.
and encouragement for municipalities         Reclaiming these materials is currently
to establish community gardens for           done on a small scale. Financial
tenants to enable them to grow some of       support and incentives or minimum
their own vegetables.                        requirements    for   the   reuse     of
                                             construction     materials    following
Protecting our food involves more than       renovations could expand this sector.
just protecting our farm land. The
demand for ethanol, to reduce our            Green Procurement
dependence on oil-based fuels, is
                                             Procurement programs for domestic
resulting in farmland being used to
                                             content could also have a green
grow the crops to create ethanol. There
                                             component to help drive the demand for
needs to be a shift in how ethanol is
                                             green jobs.
produced from food crops such as corn
to other sources such as agricultural
                                             The establishment of an Environmental
waste.
                                             Ventures Fund could provide capital for
                                             manufacturing        capacity       for
Waste
                                             environmentally friendly products and
The government is redefining what is         seed funds for environmentally friendly
considered ―renewable‖. They are             services.
currently trying to define household
garbage as a renewable energy source
and garbage incinerators as renewable
energy generators. Incinerators by any
name spew toxins into the air and what
goes up eventually comes back down.



                                 Policy Document - Rights                           31
                           Ontario Federation of Labour


Green tax reform by a reduced
provincial     tax     on     specific
environmentally friendly products or
products with post-consumer recycled
content would help to offset any
increased purchase price for greener
products.

A     procurement      program       for
government, provincial crown agencies
and        ―MUSH‖       (municipalities,
universities, school boards, hospitals)
sectors needs to go beyond where the
product is made. Some products are
simply no longer made in Canada.
Suppliers and importers should be able
to certify products for minimum
standards      around     fair   wage,
environment and workplace health and
safety before public funds are used to
make these purchases.




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32                               Policy Document - Rights
Endnotes

Employment Standards -- Labour Relations Section


1   Yalnizyan, Armine. (2007, May). Ontario‘s Growing Gap: Time for Leadership. Canadian Centre for Policy
           Alternatives. Toronto: Author. p.12
2Workers‘   Action Centre. (2007). Working on the Edge. Toronto, Ontario: Author. Retrieved from
          http://www.workersactioncentre.org/Documents/pdfs%20policy/Working%20on%20the%20Edge-
          May%202007.pdf. p.6
3   International Metalworkers‘ Federation (IMF). (2007). Global Action against Precarious Work.
4   Statistics Canada. (2006). Earnings and Incomes of Canadians over the past Quarter Century. Retrieved
           from http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/analysis/income/eicopqc36.cfm.
5   Workers‘ Action Centre. (2007). Working on the Edge. Toronto, Ontario: Author. Retrieved from
         http://www.workersactioncentre.org/Documents/pdfs%20policy/Working%20on%20the%20Edge-
         May%202007.pdf. p.5
6   OPSEU. (2009) Weathering the Storm [Campaign]. Retrieved from
        http://www.opseu.org/campaign/weatheringthestorm/WeatheringtheStormMar2409.pdf
7   Workers‘ Action Centre. (2007). Working on the Edge. Toronto, Ontario: Author. Retrieved from
         http://www.workersactioncentre.org/Documents/pdfs%20policy/Working%20on%20the%20Edge-
         May%202007.pdf. p.5
8   Schwartz, K. (2008). A Million Reasons! The Victory of the $10 Minimum Wage Campaign. Toronto: Toronto
         and York Region Labour Council.
9   Workers‘ Action Centre. (2009). New Protection for Temp Agency Workers Passed by Ontario Legislature!
         Retrieved from http://www.workersactioncentre.org/
10   Ministry of Finance. (2009). 2009 Ontario Budget Sector Highlights: Poverty Reduction Strategy. Retrieved
         from: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/budget/ontariobudgets/2009/sectors/povertysh.html
11   NDP Ontario (2009, May 29) NDP proposes sweeping employment standards changes
         http://ontariondp.com/ndp-proposes-sweeping-employment-standards-changes
12   Centre for Constitutional Studies (2007, June 8). Health Services and Support - Facilities Subsector
          Bargaining Assn v. British Columbia. Retrieved from:
          http://www.law.ualberta.ca/centres/ccs/rulings/facilitiessubsectorbargainingassn.php
13   UFCW. (2008, November 17). Ontario Court of Appeal rules Ontario law excluding agriculture workers
        from collective bargaining violates Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Retrieved from
        http://www.ufcw.ca/Default.aspx?SectionId=af80f8cf-ddd2-4b12-9f41-
        641ea94d4fa4&LanguageId=1&ItemId=de67f14c-925d-4b7c-bf52-accb7a6c2ac8
14   OPSECAAT. (2008, June 12). Part-timers and Sessionals win hard-fought victory at Queen‘s Park
         [Newsletter]. The Part-Time Times. Retrieved from
         http://www.opseu.org/caat/parttime/PartTimeTimesJun1208.pdf




33                                       Policy Document - Rights

				
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