Ontario faculty deeply disappointed with government repeal of $15 minimum wage and fair labour laws

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TORONTO – Ontario faculty are deeply disappointed that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has announced they will cancel fair labour laws, including the $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, equal pay for equal work, enhanced bargaining unit consolidation provisions, and fairer rules for joining a union. Workers on university campuses and in communities across the province had been counting on these modest but important labour law improvements to support themselves and their families.

“Workers across Ontario deserve fair wages and good jobs,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). “Faculty understand the devastating impact that the rise of low-wage and precarious work is having in our communities.”

Existing bargaining unit consolidation provisions would have allowed for streamlined collective bargaining and more efficient workplaces. Several Ontario faculty unions and universities have already started the process of consolidating bargaining units and this legislation could put those initiatives in jeopardy.

Cuts to decent work laws are of particular concern to Ontario contract faculty. 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 juggle work at multiple institutions just to make ends meet.

“Living contract-to-contract with low pay and anxiously awaiting news about whether we will be hired to teach the next semester is incredibly stressful,” said Kimberly Ellis-Hale, contract faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University and Chair of OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. “We should be making progress in addressing fairness for contract faculty, not rolling back reasonable and essential improvements to worker rights.”

The equal pay legislation the Ford government plans to dismantle created a new minimum standard of fairness for contract, part-time, and temporary workers. It represented a step towards fair pay in postsecondary education, with thousands of contract faculty at Ontario colleges set to receive better compensation. The loss of this provision will be felt most acutely by already marginalized workers – racialized, female, and gender non-conforming contract faculty often work more hours and are more likely to be in low-income households than their white male peers.

The prevalence of precarious employment at Ontario universities doesn’t just negatively impact contract faculty, it also impacts students and the quality of education they receive. Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. Contract faculty are excellent teachers, but without job security and dedicated office space, they can’t always be available to provide the mentorship vital for student success. Additionally, these rollbacks will hurt students because many work precarious jobs to pay high university tuition fees.

“Faculty are committed to working with students, staff, and other members of our campus communities to push back against this government’s anti-worker agenda,” says Phillips. “We are part of a growing movement that will continue to stand up for fair labour laws and decent work across Ontario.”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.


For more information, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or communications@ocufa.on.ca