TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - The announcement of proposed Ontario
legislation to extend protections for migrant and precarious workers
"is a very positive first step in renewing employment standards
legislation and extending workplace health and safety legislation,"
says Paul Meinema, the President of the UFCW Canada National Council.
UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers) is Canada's leading
and most progressive private-sector union with more than 250,000
members nationally. For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has led the
campaign to enhance protections for migrant and temporary workers.
"Right now, temporary and migrant workers in Ontario are at the end of
the line when it comes to protecting their employment and labour
rights," says Meinema. "For decades, many migrant and temporary foreign
workers have essentially been held hostage by recruitment agencies
charging outlandish fees to come to Canada. The proposed ban on
recruitment fees is a good move, but inspection and enforcement is
crucial for it to work."
UFCW Canada acted on the advisory board to the Ontario Law Reform
Commission whose report on precarious employment preceded today's
announcement. Many of the proposed changes were also recommended in the
report released last summer.
"The Law Reform Commission, and now the Ontario government have
recognized that for many workers in Ontario, temporary work is a
permanent situation," says Meinema. "For decades, we have advocated for
both immigrant and temporary foreign workers faced with being
shortchanged on wages, or docked wages to pay back recruiters. The
proposed changes seemingly give them some recourse."
Meinema notes that "while this is a positive move, particularly with
regard to recruitment fees, thousands of ultra-vulnerable migrant
agriculture workers are still subject to the Mike Harris Tory ban on
unionizing. Without lifting that ban, many of the benefits of the
announcement made today will be of little benefit to migrant
More than 100,000 UFCW Canada members work in Ontario. In association
with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates
10 agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including four in
Ontario, representing more than 12,000 migrant agriculture workers.
SOURCE: United Food and Commercial Workers Canada
For further information:
Naveen Mehta, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights
(416) 675-1104 x2246
Agriculture Workers Alliance