If Ontario really wants to look at upstream investments to improve population health, it may want to pay attention to an unlikely source – the Law Commission of Ontario.
In August the LCO issued an interim report on vulnerable workers and precarious work. In it they note that the rise in precarious work “leads to a greater risk of injury and illness, stress and lack of access to medical care.”
The 166-page LCO report states that such work not only leads families to experience “the intergenerational costs of poverty,” but also impacts society at large.
Unlike PC leader Tim Hudak’s drive to take labour rights in this province back to the stone age – or at the very least to Wisconsin – the LCO makes many constructive recommendations to really improve the lives of Ontario workers. Implementing many of these recommendations could have the two-fold effect of also addressing the social determinants of health. That should be a wake-up call to Health Minister Deb Matthews.
Given the McGuinty government is now in its third term, it has few excuses not to finally address the mess made by the Harris government and bring about change to improve labour conditions in the province. The LCO report appears as a breath of fresh air amid all the gloom about beating back already stagnant workers’ wages to match those of the Chinese.
The report includes recommendations to update, review and streamline exemptions to the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Such a review would develop and use principles that aim to promote a “broadly available minimum floor of basic workers’ rights, including that justifications for exemptions be balanced against the need to reduce precarious work and provide basic minimum standards to a broader sector of the working population.”