Ontario’s workplace must be modernized: Barrett

For Immediate Release
June 27, 2012

“Contractors who resisted pressure from Jimmy Hazel, the powerful head of the 900-member Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council… stopped getting work.”

– Toronto Star editorial on untendered contracting by the TDSB, June 26, 2012


HALDIMAND-NORFOLK – Ontarians will thrive in a future of balanced budgets, lower taxes, affordable energy and a well-educated, competitive workforce – but to help get there, we must modernize Ontario’s workplace laws, regulations and agencies, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett said today.

“The world has changed, and our economy has changed with it,” Barrett said. “But the rules governing the workplace, and the way unions are run, have not. It’s time to open up economic opportunities for individual workers, not union bosses.

“More broadly, this is about getting our economic fundamentals right – things like lower taxes on job-creating businesses, affordable energy and more flexible and responsive regulation.”

Barrett made the comments as Ontario Opposition Leader Tim Hudak released his party’s second white paper on bold, new ideas for restoring our economic fundamentals.  Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets follows May’s publication of the hotly-debated Paths to Prosperity: Affordable Energy. The discussion papers are intended to initiate debate and solicit public feedback on ideas to create jobs, spark investment in Ontario and drive economic growth.

The paper proposes action in four key areas: giving the individual worker a choice whether to become or remain a union member; making union leaders more accountable to unionized employees; modernizing outdated tendering rules to open up more government infrastructure work to free-market competition; and reforming Ontario’s workplace agencies to encourage – not discourage – a more flexible workforce and job creation.

He added that “Rigid labour laws and inefficient agencies make businesses hesitant to expand and hire, increasing unemployment.” One study by economist Richard Vedder found that yearly per-person income increases $2,800 with reforms like making union dues voluntary for the individual worker.

Barrett went on to say that such changes restore balance between the power of union leaders and that of the individual worker: “As it stands, dues are deducted from paycheques with little to no accountability, and can be used for purposes that many may disagree with. Employees can also be passed over for promotion or even lose their jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with their qualifications or competence. They can even be fired for refusing to pay dues.

“It’s time to get Ontarians back to work – in an economy that rewards individual workers – not union bosses,” Barrett concluded.

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For more information contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446, 905-765-8413 or 1-800-903-8629