Will the Premier commit to a $15 minimum wage & implement paid sick leave for Ontario workers?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you very much. My question is to the Premier. The Changing Workplaces Review—Final Report is out. There’s no getting around it now. Hard-working Ontarians have waited 14 years for this Liberal government to acknowledge the struggles they face every day to balance work and families and bills that keep rising.

 Union jobs are good jobs, and we believe that it should be easier for more Ontarians to join unions. New Democrats have long called for a return to card-based union certification and first-contract arbitration.

Will the Premier commit to implementing, without further delay, card-based union certification and first-contact arbitration protection today?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Labour.

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you to the honourable member for that question. Certainly it is on a lot of people’s minds these days. The Changing Workplaces Review is complete. It was released to the public last week, Speaker, and tomorrow you’re going to see a response from the government to that report.

The advisers, in my opinion, have done an incredible job canvassing the variety of opinions that are out there on things like scheduling, on things like unionization, card-based certification, remedial certification and hours of work—all the things that have changed in the last 20 to 25 years since we looked at these acts, Speaker.

The world of work has changed. It has shifted underneath our feet, and what we need to do is ensure that the legislation we put in place mirrors the realities of the workplace today.

There are a number of people out there who are struggling and who need to be assisted by some changes. I’m hoping that when we see the response from the government tomorrow it’s going to move us forward.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Days off without reprisals is a start, but there is no ban on replacement workers in these recommendations. There is no automatic access to first-contract arbitration. And millions of part-time, temporary, even full-time and multiple job holders are struggling to support their families—58% of whom are women, according to a United Way study. They deserve the benefit of paid sick days and a $15 minimum wage.

Will this government commit today—because they might not have a chance after the next election to do so—to implementing paid sick days for every Ontario worker? And will the Premier, without delay—even after 14 years—commit to bringing in a $15 minimum wage for the workers in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Clearly, action is needed in order to make sure that the benefits of the incredible growing economy we have right now in the province of Ontario—we’re leading the G7. Unemployment is at the lowest it’s been in a number of years. The economy is growing. It’s doing well. We need to make sure that every Ontarian has the ability to share in that prosperity, Speaker.

The response that will be coming forward tomorrow is going to ensure that hard-working Ontarians get treated with fairness, with decency and respect in the workplace. There are a number of recommendations around wages, around scheduling.

You’ll have a full response from the government tomorrow. I suspect, Speaker, you’re going to see that it meets the needs of the province of Ontario. I think that once those people who are feeling a little insecure these days see the response from this Premier and this government, they will feel a lot more confident and secure at work.