…As the policy agenda of OECD countries moves from job preservation to new job creation, labour market policy makers will need to collaborate with a broad set of actors – not only employers, but also unions, economic development agencies, colleges and business support providers. Much of this collaboration will need to happen at the level of relatively homogenous local labour markets. Public resources need to be used wisely in the delivery of joined up local approaches that are innovative but effective, minimizing duplication and building up relationships based on trust and mutual accountability. Producing better policy alignment will be important for both achieving better job outcomes, and also maintaining or reducing current levels of public expenditure. It is important that communities do not get back to “business as usual” after the crisis, but use the current situation as an opportunity to build a better partnership with employers to better utilize skills and build meaningful career ladders that support progression for the lower skilled. Communities also need to anticipate future skills demands, while ensuring that they build on their own comparative advantages and are adaptable to change.714
The issue of Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work is multidimensional and affects stakeholders from a broad range of sectors. Solutions cannot be confined to one level of government or to one government ministry, nor will the solution emanate solely from the government. Employers, workers, employer organizations, advocates, unions, educational institutions and community agencies all have a role to play.
In responding to our Interim Report, the Ontario Bar Association, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Section stated support for the LCO’s multi-dimensional approach to building effective protection for vulnerable workers which includes:
a) strong pro-active government oversight;
b) meaningful protection for the effective exercise of fundamental rights, including collective representation;
c) substantive workplace rights that are responsive to vulnerable workers;
d) effective and accessible mechanisms for enforcing rights;
e) active involvement of community organizations to support the voice of vulnerable workers; and
f) identification of best practices through on-going stakeholder involvement.715
One of the most significant steps that could be taken would be to implement a provincial strategy with a focus on reducing precarity in lower skilled jobs. While job creation has certainly been at the forefront of government policy for some time, in our view, the issue of not just any work but work that provides fair wages and safe and healthy working conditions would be a more appropriate objective. A provincial strategy would engage multiple ministries and stakeholders in comprehensive, coordinated initiatives that would focus attention on the issue and set appropriate targets.
The Law Commission of Ontario recommends that:
47. The Ontario government:
a) build upon principles of the Poverty Reduction Strategy to develop and implement a multi-sectoral/cross-ministerial employment strategy coordinated by an identified lead Ministry with the objective of improving support to vulnerable workers and reducing employment precarity among the most disproportionately affected; and
b) measure initiatives on the basis of whether programs create or enable participants to engage in secure and sustainable work.
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