Ontario employees who will not receive the $15 minimum wage increase by 2019
In 1991 a student could work 9 weeks at minimum wage in Ontario to cover the average cost of their tuition
Today an Ontario student must work 21 full-time workweeks to cover the average cost of their tuition
A decent, well-paying job with worker protections is hard to come by in Ontario for anyone looking to secure employment. Finding a job and an employer who is accommodating and flexible with student workers is rare.
Students across the province rely on part-time, seasonal and sometimes full-time work to help offset the cost of their education. A major issue is caused due to longstanding gaps in the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) that fail to ensure fair scheduling.
- There are no provisions in the ESA that require schedules be provided in advance.
- Employers often expect casual and part-time workers to be available at all times, yet only schedule them for two or three shifts at a time.
- Many workers, including students, receive their schedules at the last minute and at different times every week.
- Workers can also be scheduled as “on-call” with the expectation that they will be ready to work at a moment’s notice.
- Many students are punished by employers for not being available during midterms and exam periods, and have very little input in the timing of their shifts.
Ontario is also currently the only province with a subminimum wage for students under the age of 18 and servers.
- The subminimum wage for servers ignores the fact that work in the service industry is precarious (e.g. often no guaranteed shifts, sick days or vacation), tips are erratic, and busy or slow seasons factor into how much servers make.
- Students under the age of 18 get paid less for doing the exact same work as their 19-years or older counterparts.
- The devaluation of young workers’ labour creates more generalized downward pressure on wages for younger workers and new entrants to the labour market.
Students and workers have a long history of working together to protect workers’ rights. This solidarity led to the recent victory of a new $15 minimum wage in 2017.
Unfortunately, the work is not done as not everyone will benefit from the increase to a $15 minimum wage due to certain types of workers being submitted to subminimum wages.
It is time to push the government to end the devaluation of student labour. Become a part of these efforts by demanding that political parties in this election:
- Support the elimination of a sub-minimum wage.
- Implement provisions within the Employment Standards Act to require fixed scheduling.
- Enforce the $15 minimum wage increase with all employers in Ontario.