Ford Government Facing Criticism from Workers After Passing Bill to Cut Regulations

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The recent passing of Bill 66 — referred to by the province as the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act — has sparked sharp criticism from opponents of the bill who say it will prioritize corporations over the interests of workers.

On Tuesday, April 2, the provincial government reported that the passing of the legislation will “reduce the high cost of doing business in the province” and make Ontario companies more competitive.

The government says it will be taking over 30 actions through the Act, along with regulatory changes, to cut business costs, harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, and reduce barriers to investment.

Bureaucratic red tape is squeezing the mom and pop shops across our province,” says Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

We’re not against regulation — just overregulation. We’re eliminating regulations that are outdated, inflexible or ineffective, or that duplicate federal or municipal regulations.”

The legislation aims to help the government reach two of its goals by 2020: Save Ontario companies at least $400 million per year via reduced regulation costs, and reduce the number of regulatory requirements affecting businesses by at least 25%.

The same day the bill’s passing was announced, a statement of criticism was issued by an Ontario organization that fights for a higher minimum wage and stronger protections for workers.

The passage of Bill 66 today means only one thing: Premier Ford has forgotten that he was elected to serve the people of Ontario, not CEOs,” says Pam Frache, Coordinator of the Ontario-wide Fight for $15 & Fairness Campaign.  

This legislation has clearly been designed to allow corporations to save money at the expense of workers, our health, and the environment. It should never have been introduced in the first place.”

The organization says the bill will cancel protections against excessive hours of work and unpaid overtime, make it harder for workers to learn about their rights on the job, end collective bargaining agreements for many construction workers in the public sector, and lead to more pollution in Ontario by cancelling protections against toxic chemicals in the workplace.

In the education sector, they fear that children’s lives will be at risk due to early childhood educator jobs being jeopardized.

Ontarians are outraged at Premier Ford, who once again chose corporations over people,” says Frache, who also points towards the Ford government’s decision to cancel the $15 minimum wage in 2018. “On top of this, Ford’s so-called tax break for low-income workers leaves them $400 worse off than if the minimum wage had increased to $15 this past January.”

These concerns are shared by Navi Aujla, an organizer with the Brampton chapter of Fight for $15 & Fairness, who says people in her community already struggle with poverty wages, unstable hours, and contract jobs with no benefits.

Without Ministry of Labour oversight, this just opens the door for more employer abuse,” Aujla says. “If an employer can make a single worker put in a 70-hour week under Bill 66 and do the job of two people at no extra cost, why would any employer ever hire more staff? The answer is they wouldn’t. And that is on Premier Ford.”

The Fight for $15 and Fairness is a growing movement of workers that includes anti-poverty activists, health providers, labour groups, students, faculty, and faith leaders. Their website can be found at 15andFairness.org.

What are your thoughts on Bill 66? Do you agree that the bill chooses corporate profits over people?

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