By Brad Evoy

On Nov. 2, students and workers from across the Ottawa region gathered at the Kanata office of Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton. They were there to protest the repeal of fair labour laws and the $15 minimum wage within Ontario.

Last year, the Ontario labour movement had heralded a great success with the passage of Bill 148, which sought to increase the minimum wage, secure pay equity, add two paid sick days for employees, remove requirements for needless doctor’s notes for accessing leave, among further worker protections.

The Ford government has moved to largely strip away these protections and freeze the minimum wage at 14 dollars until 2020 through Bill 47, tellingly titled the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.

This act, if passed, will have devastating impacts upon working class families in Ontario – much like the government’s actions to wind down the Basic Income Pilot and the  insurance premium reduction from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

At the rally, the central message to Minister Fullerton, loudly and clearly, was that “Ontario should be addressing precarious work and promoting quality education across the postsecondary education system, not rolling back reasonable and modest improvements to labour law,” according to $15 and Fairness Ottawa.

Workers and students unite to confront Minister Fullerton. Photo: 15 and Fairness

Members at the rally furthered this message by connecting Bill 47 to other notable attacks on unionized college and university contract faculty, repeals to sexual education in primary and secondary schools, and the wider renewed push for austerity that reminded many of the violent, repressive era of Mike Harris.

This rally was preceded by a major mobilizing effort on Halloween at Carleton University, where students gathered support while dressed in their seasonal best to push back against the repeal. The costumed ghosts and ghouls gave candy and haunting reminders of the Ford government’s legislation to members of the campus community.

A further mobilizing effort will be held on Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m. called “The People’s Hearings on Bill 47: Speak out for fairness!”

This will be hosted outside of Conservative MPP Jeremy Roberts’ office (1580 Merivale Rd, Nepean). Roberts both refused to accept petitions opposing Bill 47 and will vote in favour of the bill, regardless of opposition. The date is also the start of the next stage of the process to pass the bill in the legislature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *