Fight for $15 & Fairness

Fight for $15 & Fairness

May 30, 2017 09:40 ET

Media Release: Faith Leaders Call for a $15 Minimum Wage & Labour Law Reform

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 30, 2017) - Ahead of the summer recess of the Ontario legislature, leaders of multiple faith communities hosted a joint press conference at Queen's Park today to call on the provincial government to make decent work legislation a priority in 2017.

"As spiritual leaders, we have a history of pursuing justice and compassion in our communities," explained Imam Ibrahim Hindy. "During Ramadan especially, we fast to empathize with those who struggle with poverty. The gaps in Ontario's outdated labour laws, however, keep many people from being able to support themselves and their families."

Bhupinder Singh Ubbi, the Chairperson of the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council, added that the health and spiritual wellbeing of members of his community suffer due to the widespread nature of precarious jobs. "The permanent stress of inadequate wages, unfair and last-minute scheduling changes, as well as juggling multiple jobs takes a big toll."

At the press conference the names of close to 200 religious leaders who are endorsing the legislative demands of the $15 & Fairness campaign were announced. A wide range of faiths are included among the signatories, with endorsements from Anglican Bishops, Buddhist Monks, Muslim Chaplains and Senior Rabbis. Faith leaders wish to see the provincial government adopt a $15 minimum wage to put workers above the poverty line, as well as urgently table legislation to bring in meaningful labour law reform.

Reverend Dr. Susan Eagle, Chair of Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition highlighted the unique role the Ontario Government needs to play to put a stop to the growth of bad jobs. "The current laws allow employers to pay less and provide fewer or no benefits to employees if they are part-time, casual or hired through a temporary agency, even when they are doing the same job as their full-time counterparts."

In addition to closing loopholes in the labour laws and raising the floor of protections for all, faith leaders are calling for measures to make it easier for workers to access unionization. "An effective way to assist the working poor is to give them the tools to improve their own compensation and working conditions," explained Rabbi Shalom Schachter the Toronto Board of Rabbis representative on the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition. "However, the law still gives more weight to employer interests in avoiding unionization than to workers wishing to have workplace representation."

Since spring 2015, the Ministry of Labour has conducted a comprehensive review of all laws that govern work in Ontario. The final recommendations of the Changing Workplaces Review were released on May 23, but the government has yet to take action. Faith leaders are asking Members of Provincial Parliament to make $15 and Fairness an urgent priority and table legislation immediately, saying their congregants cannot wait another year for decent work.

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