Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

YWCA Toronto
July 20, 2017women sitting together in a row

YWCA Toronto is the largest multi-service women’s organization in Canada. We have a long and proud history of providing direct services and tackling systemic issues to help women escape violence, move out of poverty, and access safe affordable housing. We also work with young girls - building their leadership and critical thinking skills. Our Association serves over 13,700 people annually in 32 programs across Toronto.

Helping women build strong economic futures is a key focus of our vision, mission and strategic priorities. We also have a long history of partnership with the provincial government to deliver employment and training programs, including with our Women’s Employment Centres in Scarborough and Etobicoke; our Women in the Skilled Trades Programs and Moving On To Success, an employment program for women who have experienced violence and trauma. We also advocate at all levels of government for strategies to curb the growth of precarious employment and to promote fair employment standards.

As an employer, YWCA Toronto is committed to advancing decent work and liveable wages. Our staff are unionized with CUPE. We offer a comprehensive benefits and retirement plan, and we are committed to the principles of the Ontario Non-profit Network’s decent work movement. That said, the non-profit community has been challenged by a shift to project-based funding and we are bearing a huge responsibility and weight for operational costs. Government funding structures need to be reformed in order to allow us to support decent work and liveable wages in our sector.

Our Association supports The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) because women in our programs have told us what they need: permanent, full-time jobs with benefits and workplace protections. This submission focuses on two key measures related to Bill 148 that will benefit women in the labour market:

• A $15 provincial minimum wage
• Paid leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence

A $15 minimum wage

We support increasing the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 1, 2019.

Across all of our programs, women tell us that they are working for low wages in part-time, temporary or contract jobs without employment benefits, workplace protection or the right to form, and keep, a union. Most have no guaranteed hours of work, no benefits and no sick time. They also tell us that finding affordable child care when they need it is next to impossible. Job insecurity and a broken social safety net keep women trapped in poverty.

In consultations with program participants, we have spoken to highl