November 6, 2018
Dr. Gervan Fearon
President & Vice-Chancellor
1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way
St. Catharines ON L2S 3A1
Dear President Fearon,
On November 22, 2017, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which established several much-needed improvements in the working conditions of the province’s most vulnerable employees. However, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ontario’s leading business lobby, has consistently called for the full repeal of Bill 148. The BUFA Executive is disappointed with the decision of the Chamber to advocate for the dismantling of the recent legislative gains for Ontario’s workers; and is particularly concerned because Brock University is a member of the Chamber.
As you know, Bill 148 made a number of changes to the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including raising the minimum wage to $14 an hour by January 1, 2018, and to $15 an hour by January 2019, and providing employees with the following workplace improvements:
- equal pay for equal work on the basis of employment status and assignment employee status;
- one week’s notice or pay in lieu of notice for employees of temporary help agencies if longer-term assignments end early;
- fairer scheduling rules;
- a minimum of three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer;
- up to 10 individual days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave, without the fear of losing their job, when an employee or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence;
- expanded personal emergency leave to all workplaces, regardless of number of employees; and
- unpaid leave to take care of a critically ill family member.
The BUFA Executive supported these long overdue changes to labour laws in Ontario, knowing that such changes would provide greater protection to some of the most marginalized and precarious workers in our economy, including the 1.46 million low-income Ontarians earning less than $15 an hour.
The current Government of Ontario, under the premiership of Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative Party, has announced that they will cancel fair labour laws and introduce legislation to freeze the minimum wage at $14, eliminate paid sick days and the right to equal pay for equal work, cancel fair scheduling rules, and cancel fairer rules for joining a union.
Cuts to decent work laws have serious negative implications for our contract faculty in Ontario and thus are of concern to all of us who care about quality post-secondary education. At universities across the province, over half of faculty are now employed through precarious contracts without job security, and often paid less than their full-time colleagues for the same work. Many are forced to work at multiple institutions just to make ends meet.
Brock prides itself on being a model employer. In 2017 the University was recognized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers as a Top Employer in the Hamilton-Niagara region for the second year in the row. BUFA is proud of our members and the contributions they make to the university.
Given the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s stance against the improvements contained in Bill 148, the BUFA Executive would like to know the University’s position on Bill 148, its role in the Chamber’s decision-making process, and Brock’s rationale for continued membership in the Chamber given the Chamber’s anti-worker position on this issue. We also would like clarification on Brock’s formal position on Bill 148 and Brock’s efforts to advocate for precarious workers, both for those on campus and workers in the community.
I look forward to your response.
Michelle Webber, Ph.D.
President, Brock University Faculty Association
1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, MC D402
St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1
Phone: (905) 688-5550 ext. 4411