New reports released today by Social Planning Toronto show that younger Torontonians, as well as women in key sectors will benefit from proposed labour law reforms under the Ontario government’s Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. However, the proposed legislation leaves out the majority of precarious workers, including women and millennials, from improved access to unions.
This research, based on a survey of over 2,700 Toronto workers, shows the increased access to unionization provided under Bill 148 offers a broad range of benefits for women and younger adults, including protections against precarious work and access to better jobs and improved working conditions.
While the research makes clear the benefits of union membership, Ontarians have one of the lowest rates of unionization in Canada at 26.7%, second only to Alberta. Toronto’s rate is even lower with only 22.5% of Toronto workers with union coverage.
“By expanding the ability of employees to organize into unions, we can ensure more women benefit from stable incomes, better wages, and greater access to a pension, benefits and paid time off”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “This data reveals that women who are given the opportunity to join unions get a meaningful chance to narrow the gender wage gap”, said Meagher.
The report also finds that millennials, who have the lowest rates of unionization in the workplace, will benefit from easier access to unionization.
“This data tells us that for younger adults struggling to pay bills, unions lead to full-time work with more stable income. These are outcomes that result in a better society as the millennial generation begins to start their own families”, said Meagher.
For over 40 years, workers were able to form unions through a simplified process called one-step card-based certification. In 1995, the provincial government under Premier Mike Harris replaced this process with a far more cumbersome and difficult one, creating significant barriers to union access. Bill 148 reintroduces card-based certification but only for a small group of workers including employees in the building service industry, community and home care sector, and temporary work agencies.
“Bill 148 will make joining a union easier, but only for some workers”, said Meagher. “This new data shows there is simply no reason to maintain barriers to unionization for any workers”.