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Want to Save Your Trade? Fight Back in January-February 2017

December 22, 2016
Protest Against Bill 70 Schedule 17 in 2017

By this time you may have heard that Bill 70 has passed and received Royal Assent. Some parts of Schedule 17 are in force. Other parts have not yet been Proclaimed.

Does that mean that the fight is over? No. Far from it. Regulations haven’t been written to implement the law. We can still influence change.

The Wynne government expects the skilled trades of Ontario to give up. After all, the holidays are upon us and the legislature isn’t back in session until February 21. They think we’re going to just forget that Schedule 17 threatens our safety and the safety of all Ontarians.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for every skilled trade, unionized or not, to step up and be heard in January and February of 2017. This legislation will impact skilled trades not only in construction, but in the automotive, industrial and service sectors as well.

What can you do?

  • Unionized? Contact your Local and ask how you can participate.
  • Non-union? Discuss with your colleagues and contact your MPP.
  • Visit protradessafeontario.ca to easily send a letter to your MPP.
  • Spread the word on social media.
  • Explain the issues to your family, friends, and anyone who will listen.
  • Demonstrate as often as you can in your area, and help out in other cities if possible.
  • Talk to your MPP – ensure they know your vote depends on their support.

Most Ontarians would be upset if they knew what’s going on – but this issue just isn’t being talked about.

Protest Against Bill 70 Schedule 17 in Queen's Park Toronto in November 2016

Over 4,000 attended the protest against Bill 70 Schedule 17 at Queen’s Park Toronto in November 2016.

Isn’t This Just a Fight Between Unions?

No. We are not trying to take away work from anyone else, including other unions. We are concerned, as should all skilled trades should be, that the Kathleen Wynne government is potentially going to negatively impact the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of workers.

We are just trying to have skilled trades – unionized or not – continue to do the work that affects their jobsite safety and the safety of the public at large.
You can read more about this here.

But Isn’t the Fight Already Over?

No. Important parts of Bill 70, Schedule 17 have still not been Proclaimed into force by the government. The fight is not over.

We have to let the government know that we have a strong united voice.

So What’s the Problem With Schedule 17 Anyways?

There are 2 main problems:

  1. Unskilled labourers will be allowed to do work currently being done by skilled trades. This is a safety risk – to all the workers concerned, and to the public.
  2. The Ontario Labour Relations Board will be given the power to overturn decisions made by the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) Inspectors regarding illegal workers and employers of illegal workers, and will be able to do on the basis of criteria invented by the Board not the College. This can only harm enforcement. Historically, the Board has expertise in labour relations – not in apprenticeship, training and licensing of skilled trades.

You can read the exact text of Schedule 17 in the full text of Bill 70 here. Unfortunately the hyperlinks to the schedules at the top don’t work – you have to scroll about ⅔ of the way down the page.

I’ve Heard Schedule 17 Won’t Actually Have an Effect on My Livelihood. Is That True?

No. Many skilled trades will be affected, potentially even those who aren’t in the construction industry.

That’s because work that you and your apprentices do right now can in the future be given to underpaid, unskilled workers off the street. This includes people who are paid under the table, and who contribute to the growing underground construction economy, worth about $15 billion in 2015.

As illegal labour, these workers are often easy to intimidate into doing anything, even if it’s not safe. They will be doing things that put themselves and others in danger, and they often won’t even know it.

Let your Voice be Heard. Your Life May Depend on It.

In January and February, the Liberals are counting on the cold to keep you quiet. Instead, show them that your voice will be heard.

You’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with other unions, other skilled trades, and even many employers of skilled trades to get the message out. The Liberals must be made to understand that Schedule 17 is unsafe and unfair to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have earned their skilled trade certification.

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