September 1, 2017 — On Monday, September 4, members of OSSTF/FEESO will be gathering with other union members and working people at picnics, parades and barbecues in communities all over Ontario to celebrate Labour Day 2017.
This year the labour movement in Ontario has reason for cautious optimism as modest improvements to the province’s labour relations laws and employment standards regulations, as well an increase in the minimum wage, make their way through the provincial legislature. While Bill 148 does not provide all the improvements we were hoping to see – and Ontario’s unions are still lobbying for amendments – the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Make it Fair campaign and the Fight for 15 and Fairness are to be congratulated for helping to drive the first overhaul of Ontario’s labour and employment standards laws since the 1990s. The battle is not over, and we know that a massive business lobby is trying to dissuade the government from implementing these changes. Although there is still work to do, Ontario’s unions have earned the right to reflect on these campaigns as evidence of what we can accomplish when we work collectively to ensure that all working people are treated with fairness and respect.
Labour Day 2017 will also mark the launch of the Canadian Labour Congress campaign for a national pharmacare program. Canada is the only country in the world with a public health care system that does not include prescription drug coverage, and consequently our prescription drug costs are higher than those in any other country except the United States. This means that as many as 3.5 million Canadians simply can’t afford the medications they need. Canada’s unions, through the CLC, will be working hard to convince the federal government, in coordination with the provinces and territories, to establish a single-payer, universal prescription drug plan. OSSTF/FEESO will be a proud participant in that campaign.
These current campaigns for better employment laws and for universal drug coverage fall within the labour movement’s long, rich tradition of working tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all working people in Canada. I urge every OSSTF/FEESO member to celebrate that tradition by taking part in one of the Labour Day events in your community.
Happy Labour Day!