SEIU Healthcare's response to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce objecting potential labour and employment standards reforms

TORONTO, May 17, 2017 /CNW/ -

Premier Wynne
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON

Dear Premier Wynne,

Yesterday I read an open letter to you from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Frankly, I was shocked at how ignorant these c-suite executives are to the real concerns facing too many hard-working families.

Nobody should be against building a strong economy. At the same time, nobody should be against ensuring we meet our obligations to those hard-working families on whom a strong economy relies.

The Chamber of Commerce ignores the fundamental shifts taking place in the global economy and its impact on real people. On the eve of the recommendations in the Changing Workplaces Review, they are wrongly predicting economic doom just as they have done before.

When the State of California took measures to raise the minimum wage the Chamber of Commerce called that legislation a "job killer." California's GDP has since outpaced the US national average and unemployment in that state has continued to decline. The Chamber of Commerce was wrong then and they are wrong now.

When Ontario took action to address climate change the Chamber of Commerce called for delay because Bay Street claimed it would hurt our competitiveness.

Ontario's economy has since remained a North American leader in Foreign Direct Investment. The Chamber of Commerce was wrong then and they are wrong now.

When President Obama expanded health care to millions of Americans the Chamber of Commerce again said it would kill jobs. The US economy would go on to add new jobs under his Presidency for a record 75 straight months. The Chamber of Commerce was wrong then and they are wrong now.

When federal and provincial governments across Canada took action to enhance retirement security for workers, the Chamber of Commerce first obstructed the ORPP and then called enhancing the CPP a "devastating move." Unemployment in Ontario is now at its lowest rate in 16 years. The Chamber of Commerce was wrong then and they are wrong now.

The Chamber of Commerce has opposed all of these programs in some way or another over the years and in all cases have been wrong. Their record of predicting doomed progressive public policy outcomes on both sides of the border is a failed one.

Supports from all levels of government have enabled businesses to recover from the 2008 global economic crisis. Now, with strong balance sheets and strong valuations, those same businesses should not impede fair actions that support everyday workers.

So when the Chamber of Commerce writes of "so-called precarious work" I must tell you how out of touch they are with the everyday struggles and anxieties of Ontario families. Government has a role to play in ensuring everyone has a fair shot at security and opportunity.

Ontario must double-down on training opportunities for all workers. Ontario must increase take home pay for low-wage workers. Ontario must deliver necessary support for those workers impacted by innovation and automation. Ontario must not race to the bottom but instead support unionization as a ladder upwards.

The reality is the global economy is in a period of change. And the nature of work is being disrupted. Without bold action to address changing workplaces, families will fall behind, even as the economy continues to grow.

Ultimately, Premier—and members of cabinet—the question is whether Ontario can show the leadership to champion fairness and security for all hard-working families.

There are steps you can take now to improve real people's lives.

Do the right thing and ensure hard-working families participate in a growing economy. Do the right thing and provide for economic security in the face of uncertainty.

Do the right thing and deliver fairness through the Changing Workplaces Review. Do the right thing, right now.


Sharleen Stewart
SEIU Healthcare

SEIU Healthcare represents more than 57,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union's members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. SEIU Healthcare has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, supporting the training and development needs of its members, and strengthening standards in the management and delivery of patient and client care.

SOURCE SEIU Healthcare

For further information: For media inquiries, contact: Grace Ghunaim, SEIU Healthcare, 416-689-7944,

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