WORKERS’ ACTION CENTRE: New protections for Ontario workers announced today

Action Alert: Workers' Action Centre

New protections for Ontario workers announced today

Workers in Ontario have won important new protections against wage theft under new legislation introduced today.

The new bill introduces many changes that Workers’ Action Centre members and supporters across the province have been calling for through the Stop Wage Theft campaign.  If passed the new legislation would:

  1. Give workers 2 years to claim unpaid wages
  2. Get rid of the unfair $10,000 limit on the unpaid wages that can be claimed
  3. Make temp agencies and client companies jointly liable for ESA violations
  4. End WSIB rating system loopholes that provided an incentive for companies to use temp agencies
  5. Ban recruitment fees for all migrant workers

The Ministry of Labour also announced that they will fulfill their 2008 commitment to $10 million for proactive employment standards enforcement.  The government pledged to bring in more penalties for employers who violate the law and indicated the need to continue to make further changes to address precarious employment.

The bill will be tabled at Queen’s Park later this afternoon. We will share more analysis in the coming days.

WAC speaks out

WAC members spoke out today about the new protections:

“Wage theft is increasing across Ontario because many employers know there is virtually no cost to breaking the law. We have been fighting to make sure workers, including temp agency workers, have better protection at work. We now need the government to use stronger and more effective enforcement tools to fully protect workers on the job.” – Tom Wu

“Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers 2 years to file claims is a significant victory for Ontario workers, especially migrant workers. If these laws had existed a few years ago, I could have claimed the thousands of dollars of my stolen wages immediately rather than being forced to go to court. – Senthil Thevar

In a front-page Toronto Star article featuring the changes WAC coordinator Deena Ladd stated  “the way things are now, a client company can have someone working for them for five years as a temp worker but never be held responsible for any of their working conditions…under this bill, these companies will now be held jointly liable – which means they would have to think about their business practices.”

We also need to make sure temp workers get equal pay for equal work and to close the gaps so that all workers covered under the law.

Recruitment fee ban just a first step 

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and other migrant worker groups have documented how migrant workers pay an equivalent of two years’ salaries in fees in their home countries to unscrupulous recruiters and agencies to come work in Canada.  

Extending the ban against recruitment fees to all migrant workers is an important first step in taking action to stop recruiter abuses. However, the Ontario government must take steps to license recruiters and make employers jointly liable for violations in order to crack down on exorbitant recruitment fees.  This is just one change among other comprehensive protections for migrant workers that are needed.

Read more about WAC’s Stop Wage Theft campaign here
Read more about the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change #makeitright campaign here and MWAC’s analysis on proposed changes here

www.workersactioncentre.org

Copyright © 2013 Workers’ Action Centre, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Workers’ Action Centre
720 Spadina Avenue
Suite 223
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2T9
Canada

WORKERS’ ACTION CENTRE: FEAST FOR FAIRNESS – OCT. 12th

Join us at a Feast for Fairness

Action Alert: Workers' Action Centre

Feast for Fairness

Join us at a Feast for Fairness at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market!  Help us win a minimum wage increase for all workers!

Saturday October 12, 10:30am to 12pm
St. Lawrence Market
Meet at the corner of Front St. E and Jarvis.
(1 block south of King St. E) Toronto

Look who’s putting food on our table
This Thanksgiving weekend, many low-wage workers are resorting to food banks in order to get by and restaurant workers continue to see their wages stagnate. Many migrant workers are excluded from minimum wage laws altogether.

Join the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage  and Migrant Workers Alliance for Change as we demand an immediate increase to the minimum wage to $14 and ending minimum wage exemptions for all workers!

Under the banner of “Poverty Wages? NO THANKS!” this event will be just one of many province-wide actions taking place around the Thanksgiving weekend calling for a $14 minimum wage, and in alliance with the Raise the Rates Week of Action from Oct. 14-20.

Find out more here

Make it Right Campaign

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers.  This affects us all.  It’s time to Make It Right!

WAC is a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.  Read more and take action below:

We are launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers. This affects us all. It’s time to #MakeItRight. We are #InItTogether.

Our first action is a Feast for Fairness on Saturday, October 12, at 10:30am at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.  More details..

All workers, including agriculture workers, should be protected equally under Ontario’s labour laws. All workers should be entitled to minimum wage and overtime. They should be able to enforce these rights without worrying about being too late or having to under-claim how much they are actually owed by employers. Learn more…

All workers should be protected from being charged illegal and exorbitant fees by recruiters and agencies. Recruiters and employers should be registered, and the provinces and feds should work together with workers’ home governments to make sure that protection is effective across all borders. Learn more…

Going home after work should be a relief but many migrant workers have no relief from the stress of work since they live at or near their workplace.  They deserve decent housing and this requires inspection, enforcement, regulation, and viable alternatives. Learn more…

Farm workers need strong health and safety protections at work; domestic workers should be included in occupational health and safety laws; and all migrants should have immediate access to health services and other benefits that all Ontarians get. Learn more…

Migrant workers need stronger protections to make workers rights complaints and proactive enforcement of their rights. Migrant workers should have the right to change employers and stay in the country for settlement or employment standards purposes. Learn more…

Tell the Leaders of Ontario’s Provincial Parties that they must work together to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and protections as all other Ontarians. Take action now!

Copyright © 2013 Workers’ Action Centre, All rights reserved.
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Migrant Workers Alliance for Change: #InItTogether #MageItRight

We are launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers. This affects us all. It’s time to #MakeItRight. We are #InItTogether.

Our first action is a Feast for Fairness on Saturday, October 12, at 1030am at St. Lawrence’s Market in Toronto.  More details..

All workers, including agriculture workers, should be protected equally under Ontario’s labour laws. All workers should be entitled to minimum wage and overtime. They should be able to enforce these rights without worrying about being too late or having to under-claim how much they are actually owed by employers.

Learn more…

All workers should be protected from being charged illegal and exorbitant fees by recruiters and agencies. Recruiters and employers should be registered, and the provinces and feds should work together with workers’ home governments to make sure that protection is effective across all borders.

Learn more…

Going home after work should be a relief but many migrant workers have no relief from the stress of work since they live at or near their workplace.  They deserve decent housing and this requires inspection, enforcement, regulation, and viable alternatives.

Learn more…

Farm workers need strong health and safety protections at work; domestic workers should be included in occupational health and safety laws; and all migrants should have immediate access to health services and other benefits that all Ontarians get.

Learn more…

Migrant workers need stronger protections to make workers rights complaints and proactive enforcement of their rights. Migrant workers should have the right to change employers and stay in the country for settlement or employment standards purposes.

Learn more…

Tell the Leaders of Ontario’s Provincial Parties that they must work together to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and protections as all other Ontarians.

Take action now!

     
Copyright © 2013 Migrant Workers-Alliance for Change, All rights reserved.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre.

Our mailing address is:

Migrant Workers-Alliance for Change

720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223

-Toronto, Ontario -M5S 2T9

Canada

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TORONTO STAR: #KnownToPolice

Carding on the Rise Again
The Toronto Star questions Toronto Police Services’ tactics on TCHC property as well as the controversial and racially disproportionate practice of ‘Carding’ in a 3 part feature: #KnownToPolice

PT.1 As criticism poles up so do the police cards

PT.2 One officer, five years: 6600 contact cards

PT.3 Tense times in policing on TCHC property

http://www.thestar.com

 

YOUTH WITHOUT SHELTER: Fall Wishlist

YWS Fall Wishlist

http://www.yws.on.ca/

Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage

action-alert

Get ready for September 14th!

September 14th is coming soon — the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage’s second province-wide day of action for a $14 minimum wage!  This month we’ll be carrying out creative actions outside corporate targets who are board members of powerful lobby groups fighting to keep wages low.  You may be surprised to hear who’s on the list!  Stay tuned as we announce the full list next week!

Actions are being organized in Halton, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Peterborough, Sudbury, York Region, Cornwall, London, Toronto and more!   Check out 2 actions happening below.

$14 Minimum Wage Carnival

$14 Minimum Wage Carnival outside Toys “R” Us
Games, marching band and community outreach blitz!

Saturday Sept. 14, 1:00 pm

900 Dufferin Street, Dufferin Mall, Toronto
Meet at the north end of the mall on Dufferin Street.  You won’t be able to miss our banners!

Toys “R” Us made $13.5 billion in sales last year selling toys to kids and their families.

Toys “R” Us says they care about the community they serve. But Toys “R” Us chairs the board of directors of the Retail Council of Canada – an influential lobby group that is wanting to keep wages LOW for Ontario workers.  Help us tell Toys “R” Us that 1 in 7 kids in Ontario live in poverty. If they care about our communities they will support a minimum wage that brings families out of poverty!

More info here

Jane and Finch STREET PARTY for a $14 minimum wage!

Join Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) and allies
Saturday September 14, 2013, 12 to 4 pm

Southeast corner of Jane-Finch intersection,
Support the campaign to raise the minimum wage.
• Food
• Entertainment
• Free t-shirts*, buttons, and prizes (* While supplies last)

More info here:

Tell us what you are organizing on September 14th!  We’ll share the full list of actions next week!

Take Action!

Can you organize an action in your community on September 14th?

You don’t need a lot of people to make a big impact. Get in touch with the campaign for support with materials and action ideas at raisetheminimumwage@gmail.ca or (416) 531-0778, ext. 221

Help send Kathleen Wynne a message

Can’t join an action?  You can still help send a strong message to Premier Kathleen Wynne on September 14th.  Stay tuned for details of an online action on September 14th at www.raisetheminimumwage.ca. Help us spread the word and get 10 of your friends to send a message on September 14th too!

The Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage is coordinated by ACORN, Freedom 90, Mennonite New Life Centre, OCAP, Ontario Campaign 2000, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Put Food in the Budget, Social Planning Toronto, Toronto and York Region Labour Council and the Workers’ Action Centre.

Women’s Equality Day

We_Can_Do_It!

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971

Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

 

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.
http://www.nwhp.org/resourcecenter/equalityday.php

Q&A: RAISING THE MINUMUM WAGE

raiseTHEwagehttp://raisetheminimumwage.ca/

SOMALI COMMUNITY CONDEMNS DIXON ROAD RAIDS

Press Conference

After meeting and preparing statements last night, members of the Rexdale Community, largely members of the Somali community affected by the raids conducted by Toronto Police Services and police from across Southern Ontario on Dixion Road last Thursday, held a press conference at the Rexdale Community Hub today to condemn police actions during the raids.

“Community members are angered by the destruction of property and disrespectful remarks made by some officers and the police brutality that they were subject to,” said Mahad Yusuf, executive director of Midaynta Community Services.

“The community has been further stigmatized by the careless actions of some officers involved in the raid, and the irresponsible conduct of Toronto’s disgraced mayor,” Margaret Parsons said. Parsons also made the allegation that the police choice to target the Dixon community was based on recent media attention connecting Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to residences suspected to be bases in Rexdale’s drug trade, and the now infamous video which allegedly shows Rob Ford smoking from a glass pipe, although the video’s existence has still yet to be proven. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair had disclosed previously that investigators had herd subjects of their investigations discussing the video several weeks ago over wire-taps that had been in place for nearly a year.

Dixon residents in attendance accused police of kicking down doors at random, carrying out unlawful assaults of building residents not subject to arrest warrants, carrying out unlawful arrests without warrants, uttering racial slurs, and needlessly destroying property.

However, not all Somali residents were in agreement with the panel. Margaret Parsons’ call for residents to thank the leaders of the Somali community prompted one woman in attendance to vocalize her distrust of Somali leaders, urging those in attendance to ‘recognize and address the corruption within the Somali community’. This created a huge uproar among those in attendance with many of them calling for the woman to be removed from the public gathering.

Mike McCormack, President of the Toronto Police Association,  stated in a televised interview following the press conference that the police take all allegations of misconduct seriously, but that many of the residents were ‘victims of their own families’, asserting that drug traffickers intentionally resided with family members to shield them from police investigations. McCormack went on to say that the community at large ‘thinks we did a good job’.

Toronto Police Services 23rd Division’s Community Relations Officer, Constable Parm Rai, could not be reached for comment.

As a result of Project Traveller 44 arrests were made, 224 charges laid, 40 weapons seized, $500,000 in cash and an estimated $3,000,000 (street value) in narcotics. How much of those arrests and seizures took place on Dixon Road is unclear, with raids being conducted on nearby residences on Mercury Road, and at least eight of those arrested being residents of the City of Windsor.

The African Canadian Legal Clinic, after meeting with members of the community, Somali community services agencies, and the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, prepared this press release prior to today’s conference:

AFRICAN CANADIAN LEGAL CLINIC
PRESS RELEASE:
SOMALI COMMUNITY CONDEMNS DIXON ROAD RAIDS
Toronto: June 17, 2013

At 3:00 a.m. on June 13, 2013, units located at 320, 330, 340, 380, and 390 Dixon Road were raided by Toronto Police, as part of a police investigation dubbed “Project Traveller”. “In the aftermath of the raids, many community members feel victimized, vilified and traumatized as a result of the reckless manner in which officers forcibly entered their homes. Community members are angered by the destruction of property and disrespectful remarks made by some officers and the police brutality that they were subject to,” says Mahad Yusuf, Executive Director of Midaynta Community Services.

While the raids were intended to target criminal elements in the Dixon community, the actions of the TPS labeled and profiled the entire Somali community on Dixon Road as possible criminal elements. “This is particularly hurtful to a community already reeling from systemic barriers to services due to the combined impact of anti-Black racism, and Islamophobia. The community has been further stigmatized by the careless actions of some officers involved in the raid, and the irresponsible conduct of Toronto’s disgraced Mayor,” stated Margaret Parsons, Executive Director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic.

Residents shared stories about the raid with community leaders at a Town Hall meeting held at 320 Dixon Road on June 15, 2013. “Instead of providing additional resources, or hiring trauma counselors from within the community to heal the collective wounds caused by the raid, an increased level of policing has been deployed in the community. This only serves to further perpetuate fear in an already victimized and traumatized community,” says Yusuf.

At the community meeting several disheartening stories were shared. In one horrifying example, a 100 year old community Elder was so shocked by the raid on her unit she fell to the ground and was not assisted by officers. Her daughter, who is also a senior citizen, was cuffed, pushed to the ground and kicked by officers while her pleas for water to control her high blood pressure were ignored. Another 65 year old woman, who recently immigrated to Canada just 3 months ago, was also cuffed. Children as young as 10 years old woke up to guns pointed at their heads. “All of this has caused near irreparable damage to community police relations and has entrenched the feelings of indignity amongst residents,” says Yusuf.

In July 2012 the African Canadian Community responded to the Danzig Street and Eaton Centre shooting by calling for sustainable funding to the African Canadian community for social development programs. “Rather than heeding the call made by community leaders and organizations, the response has been further criminalization and racial profiling of our community. Clearly, nothing has changed,” said Parsons.

For further information contact:

Mahad Yusuf, Executive Director
Midaynta Community Services
(E): mahad@midaynta.com
(T): 416-544-1992 Ext. 229
(C): 416-702-8056
Roger Love, BA., J.D. Advice Counsel
African Canadian Legal Clinic
(E): lovero@lao.on.ca
(T): 416-214-4747 Ext. 25
(C): 647-294-1583

18 KINO STREET EAST, SWTE 901, T0RONTO, ONTARIO M5C1C4 TEL: (416) 214-4747 FAX: (416) 214-4748

Somali Canadians…
Fact Sheet

Canada has one of the largest Somali populations in the western world, with the census reporting 37,785 people claiming Somali descent, though unofficial estimates place the figure as high as 150,000. Somalis tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the province of Ontario, especially the Ottawa and Toronto areas. The Albertan cities of Calgary and Edmonton have also seen a significant increase in their respective Somali communities over the past five years. In addition, the neighborhood of Rexdale in Toronto has one of the largest Somali populations in the country. In the early 1990s, Canada saw an increase in the total number of Somali immigrants entering the country, with some secondary migration from the United States.

As with many other immigrant groups in the Toronto area, Somalis have faced some barriers to employment despite counting many qualified professionals; This has been attributed to enclave economies, self-employment, language unfamiliarity, and various public policies and social programs.

The Drop out Rate
•        The Toronto District School Board Grade 9 cohort study looking at Fall 2000 students found that the highest dropout rates (according to student 9 language) were Portuguese, Spanish and Somali speaking students.
•        Somali community has a 36.7% drop out rate which is the second highest in Toronto

Criminal Justice
•        Generation 1.5 – are the second generation Somali youth who came to Canada at a young age
•        Because of the various forms of discrimination faced by their parents, Somali second generation youth have difficulties integrating into Canadian society
•        High Unemployment Rate: Even with high school diploma or university degree, Somali males were unemployed (Gariba, 2009)
•        Unemployment is significant barrier for young Somali community, as a result, many Somalis migrated west
•        Unfortunately, a result, over 59 Somali male5 who moved to Edmonton for employment opportunities have died
•        This puts the homicide rate in the Edmonton Somali community higher than the national homicide rates in high-risk countries like Panama, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.

Social Housing: The issues
•        10 year wait list for affordable housing. Affordability: families spend 50% or more of income on rent.
•        Overcrowding: small spaces housing 6 people
•        TCH property aging and in deplorable condition, while the landscape outside is poorly maintained and offers no space to socialize.

“When you live in a bad neighborhood, not even the advantages of family, intellect, and ambition can protect you from the violence that threatens your community.”

Unemployment

Parents
•        Long-term implication of the initial settlement experience.
•        English proficiency a deterrent.
•        Lack of affordable child care Foreign skills hard to get accredited.

Youth
•        Over 80% of the Somali-Canadian community is under 30.
•        Negative perception oft he community.
•        Institutionalized discrimination based on name or address.
•        Unemployment rate hovers at 70 % in Toronto alone.
•        Lack of opportunity = Endemic disenfranchisement
•        No networks/human capital to tap in.

For more information please contact:
Amina Noor
Somali Youth outreach Worker
Midaynta Community Services
(416) 544-1992 or anoormidaynta.com

External links:

http://www.680news.com/2013/06/18/somali-canadian-community-condemns-project-traveller-raids/
http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/members-of-toronto-s-somali-community-speak-out-against-raids-1.1330664/
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/06/18/toronto_somalis_say_they_were_victimized_by_police_in_dixon_road_raids.html

“Ontario’s Housing Crisis is getting worse”, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association

2013-02-07_13-57-21_984x

Ontario’s housing crisis is getting worse according to the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association’s recent report entitled, “Where’s Home”. The report concludes that the Provincial and Federal governments have effectively removed themselves from the business of providing affordable housing, leaving inadequately funded municipal governments and the market, which is fundamentally antithetical to providing non-for-profit housing, to provide affordable housing. The lack of affordable housing will deeply impact growth in the province, since the fastest growing sectors of the market remain low paying service industry jobs. Furthermore, if affordable rentals and homes are not available, Ontarians will be forced to take loans and enter into mortgages that they cannot afford, which could result in a US style mortgage crisis, an idea subtly echoed by Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman on his blog yesterday.

Read the full report and press release here:
http://www.onpha.on.ca/whereshome

Where's Home?