Ontario Liberals to introduce bill for fair wages on government construction projects

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Ontario’s governing Liberals plan to introduce legislation to ensure personnel working on government projects in certain sectors will be paid a fair wage.

Of course, the planned legislation’s implimentation depends on whether the government is re-elected in the upcoming provincial election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the proposed legislation would establish minimum pay rates for workers in construction, building cleaning and security, and require contractors and subcontractors hired by the government to abide by them, according to a CBC news report.

Further, the premier says that this move is aimed at preventing employers from undercutting wages in order to make lowball offers on provincial projects. It comes months after the government passed major labor reforms that included minimum wage hikes and equal pay measures for part-time and casual workers.

Not surprised, organized construction labour is enthusiastic about the legislation.

The government announcement “is a huge step towards leveling the playing field in Ontario’s construction industry,” said Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Ontario Building Trades Council. “I commend the Minister, and Premier Kathleen Wynne who have shown bold leadership in bringing this forward with a view to tackling precariousness in the industry.”

“This legislation paves the way for protecting workers’ wages by establishing an enforceable requirement that contractors who bid on government-procured construction work must pay their workers fair wages that reflect trade-specific, prevailing rates in each region of the province,” said Dillon.

“Restoring the provincial fair wage policy sends a strong signal to the construction industry, that workers who pay taxes and contribute to the well-being of our province should not, and cannot be exploited by the very tax dollars that they (and all Ontarians) contribute. It’s about fairness for workers and about tackling the underground economy in construction,” Dillon noted. “This law will help ensure that the benefits of a strong-performing economy are more widely felt by the people who build-up our province,” he said.

“Various iterations of the fair wage policy have existed in Canada since the 1890s, and Ontario’s version was frozen in 1995, so it’s high time to bring it back,” said Dillon, adding that “if enacted, the legislation will lead to a significantly weakened underground economy in construction, better worker health and safety, protection of vulnerable workers, and increased productivity gains in the workplace, which will benefit employers and workers alike.”

“As they had articulated their support for the fair wage to construction employers and workers at Queen’s Park earlier this year, it is my hope that all three major political parties demonstrate their support for the fair wage, which will benefit the people of Ontario,” he said.

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