QUEEN’S PARK – Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French introduced legislation Wednesday that would put an end to the unfair cap on emergency leave days for workers in the auto sector, while also preventing any future exemptions. She was joined by Windsor West MPP, Lisa Gretzky, Unifor Local 195 representative Emile Nabbout, and Unifor Local 222 representative, Joel Smith.
“All workers in Ontario deserve to know that they can take the time away from work in the event of an emergency illness, death or other emergency,” French explained. “It shouldn’t matter what sector you work in, access should be the same and the fact that this Liberal government is discriminating against those in the auto sector is not right and my bill would stop that.”
Late last year the Liberal government quietly passed a regulation to limit the number of personal emergency leave and bereavement days workers in the auto sector would be entitled to. The decision appears to have been made at a Wynne Liberal cabinet meeting held behind closed doors shortly before the premier went to Japan to meet with major auto manufacturers. Since the regulation has been in place, thousands of autoworkers have signed petitions calling for its end. Gretzky explained that the Liberal government passed the regulation without any consultation with workers or their representatives and without due process and debate in the legislature.
“It’s completely unacceptable for the Liberal government to create a double standard and pretend to advocate for workers’ rights on one hand while in the same breath, telling workers in the auto sector that are subject to fewer emergency leave days than everyone else in the province,” Nabbout said. “Our president has met with the Liberal government but, despite expressing the concerns of the 150,000 workers, the Liberal labour Minister refuses to reverse the discriminatory cap.”
Smith explained that the regulation has caused an enormous amount of confusion within the workplaces he represents.
“We’ve seen numerous cases where employees, like some of our GM cleaners in Oshawa for example, who shouldn’t be subject to the parameters of the regulation, suddenly be told by their employer that they’re paid emergency leave days have been reduced,” he said.
Ontario New Democrats have taken several measures to reverse the discriminatory cap including putting forward amendments to the government’s recent labour legislation that would grant ten emergency leave days to all Ontario workers however, they were voted down by both liberal and conservative MPPs. Autoworkers from across the province will be attending a rally at Queen’s Park on Sunday April 22, to call on the government to immediately remove this exemption and adopt French’s bill.