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Smart Employers Talk: Building a Better Economy One Job at a Time

September 12, 2017
8:30 AM EDT - 5:00 PM EDT
245 Church St., Floor 03, Conference Room

The 2008 global recession led to widespread austerity measures across Ontario. These measures included contracting out work, freezing worker wages, and
privatizing public services among other courses of action that were intended to improve business, economic and social conditions. Unfortunately the opposite outcomes emerged. These measures encouraged “high churn/low pay” employment models where contracts became precarious, employment rates fell, minimum wages stagnated, and workplace violations rose. When compounded, these factors all served to short-change businesses, communities, governments, unions and workers.

In April 2017, a group of employers across Ontario put forward the business case for a good jobs strategy by launching the Better Way to Build the Economy Alliance
(BWA). The BWA emphasized that having engaged workers gave their businesses a competitive advantage, and made them more productive and profitable while simultaneously lowering their labour and operating costs.

In May 2017, the Special Advisors to the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Changing Workplaces Review released a final report, which proposed 173 recommendations aimed at creating better workplaces where there would be decent working conditions and widespread compliance with the law. Following the release of this report, in June 2017, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 148 - also known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 - to create more opportunity and security for workers. This would include raising the minimum wage, ensuring part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers, introducing paid sick days for every worker, enabling at least three weeks vacation after five years with the same employer, and stepping up enforcement of employment laws. Other highlights include fairer scheduling rules, expanded family leaves, measures to address misclassification of employees, a modernized Labour Relations Act, and a program for educating employees and small- and medium-sized business owners about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act.

Some employers across Ontario expressed concern about the proposed changes, stating that Bill 148 would threaten their bottom line and lead them to slash jobs, raise prices and/or shut down altogether.

The goal of this conference is to provide smart employers - who vary in scope and size - an opportunity to share how providing decent work and good jobs has allowed them to surpass their competition, and ultimately build a better economy for everyone. These employers' stories demonstrate that supporting a good jobs strategy can result in greater productivity and profitability for businesses, improved job and income security for workers , and decreased inequality and injustice for all of society.