On November 21, 2018 Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, was passed into law. The Bill came into effect on January 1st, 2019. The Decent Work and Health Network is gravely concerned about the deleterious health-related effects Bill 47 poses.
Bill 47 is a prescription for poor health; it removes equal pay for equal work, eliminates scheduling protections, cuts the planned increase to minimum wage, requires employee sick notes and eradicates two paid sick days. In fact, Bill 47 was passed despite overwhelming public opposition and without consultation from the Ministry of Health. Over 77% of Ontarians, including 64% of Conservative voters, oppose the provincial government’s decision to eliminate paid sick days. Over 66% of Ontarians, including 62% of small businesses, support a $15 minimum wage. Moreover, the Canadian Medical Associationand the Ontario Medical Associationhave advocated against Bill 47’s proposed reinstatement of sick notes for short-term absences.
In addition to overwhelming public opposition, the scientific evidence speaks against major components of Bill 47.
With respect to paid sick days, Public Health Agency of Canadahas found that workers without paid sick leave may go to work when they are sick because they cannot afford to recover at home. As such, paid sick days are vital during flu season – workers with paid sick days are more likely to get vaccinatedagainst the flu. Paid sick day policies also benefit employers: they are linked to decreased employee turnover and improved business productivity.Regarding the minimum wage, the Canadian Institute for Health Informationresearchers examined hospitalization rates and found that those in the lowest socio-economic status had higher rates for 20 illnesses.
Given the scientific evidence and public opposition, The Decent Work and Health Network calls on the provincial government to consider the health implications and make amendments to Bill 47 in consultation with workers, employers, and healthcare professionals.