March 7, 2019

Ontario Workers and Youth Oppose
Ford Government's Offensive

Anti-Worker Bill 66 at Second Reading


Protest against Bill 66 outside Environment Minister Rod Phillips Ajax constituency office,
January 12, 2019.

Alcoa/Rio Tinto's Manipulation of "Force Majeure" to Achieve Its
Anti-Worker Aims

Workers Demand Legault Government Make Alcoa/Rio Tinto Meet Its Commitments on Energy Contract - Pierre Chénier
Locked-Out ABI Workers to Discuss and Vote on Offer

Quebec Construction Workers Defend Safety Standards
Workers Call for Release of Report on Crane Operator Safety

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All
Coalition of Migrant Care Worker Groups and Allies Continue the Landed Status Now! Campaign - Peggy Morton

Federal Public Service
Day of Action Holds Government to Account for Phoenix Pay System

Ontario Workers and Youth Oppose Ford Government's Offensive

Anti-Worker Bill 66 at Second Reading

The Ford government's Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act, 2019, is now at second reading in the Legislature. Following this, the bill will go to committee for article-by-article study and possible amendments. Bill 66 is an omnibus bill that amends 18 pieces of legislation concerning labour, environment, child care, agriculture, education and more. Its stated aim is to eliminate red tape for businesses to allegedly restore Ontario's competitiveness.[1]

During second reading, MPPs of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party are repeating in unison the neo-liberal mantra of the Ford government in denial of the experience of working people in Ontario. They argue that red tape has "business owners filling out paper work instead of growing their businesses."

Clearly these MPPs did not read the 14,000 word omnibus bill but were given a sales pitch designed to suppress any discussion, especially on the human cost of the "job-killing red tape" campaign of the Ford government. One aspect of the sales pitch endlessly repeated is that the manufacturing sector in Ontario has shrunk by 300,000 jobs since 2002, allegedly because Ontario-based businesses are caught up doing paper work instead of growing their enterprises. Also repeated is that Ontario has 380,000 regulations, said to be the highest number in the country, which roughly equates to the number of manufacturing jobs lost. Facts do not matter in this trite way of speaking devoid of analysis and scientific argument.

Several major plant closures and plant downsizings in Ontario have occurred in recent years and none has been attributed to red tape and paperwork by those who own and control those facilities: not Heinz, Kellogg, Caterpillar, U.S. Steel or GM's announcement regarding the closure of its Oshawa plant.

The destruction of manufacturing in Ontario can be broadly attributed to the inherent contradiction between the socialized economy and its ownership and control by competing private interests. Those competing private interests block the socialized economy from fulfilling its economic potential for extended reproduction to guarantee the rights and well-being of Canadians.

Foreign control, mainly from the U.S., exacerbates this unresolved contradiction in the Ontario economy. The competing oligarchs in control possess economic and political power to do whatever they want regardless of harm to the human factor and economy. The well-being of the oligarchs and their global operations are all that matter and all that is discussed as important.

The nonsense of the red tape of 380,000 regulations causing the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs is thrown around as hyperbole in the Legislature to eliminate discussion and the development of public opinion as to what are the real problems facing the Ontario economy and the dangerous measures included in Bill 66.

To give an example, Conservative MPPs spoke about the provisions in Bill 66 to abrogate the Toxics Reduction Act by the end of 2021. One Conservative MPP said:

"I want to turn to Schedule 5 of the bill, which is the government's intent to wind down the Toxics Reduction Act by the end of 2021. As it currently stands, the Toxics Reduction Act requires companies to report usage and identify ways of reducing their use. It's one of the biggest paper tigers in government and it takes a lot of paper, Mr. Speaker.

"The sole accomplishment of the Act over its nine years as a statute has been to generate more paper and more people who process that paper. All this work is already being done through the federal Chemicals Management Plan. The only difference is that the federal government's plan actually requires companies to do something about the usage of harmful chemicals. The federal plan is robust, it's science-based, and every other province but Ontario relies on it. Creating unnecessary duplication does nothing to protect Ontario's health or safety, or the economy."

People knowledgeable of the Ontario Toxics Reduction Act say that it does not cover the same range of issues as the federal program. The claim of the Ford government is raised as a diversion so that it appears the elimination of the Toxics Reduction Act would be of no significance and matter little that companies would not have to report their use of toxic materials to an Ontario public authority. People dispute this assertion saying it amounts to company self-regulation in an area of great concern.

The Ford government uses a convenient self-serving argument that the Act might as well be scrapped because detachment of the previous Liberal governments left the Act as a matter of reporting or red tape. Ontario has known devastating tragedies such as the mass mercury poisoning of Grassy Narrows First Nation that dates back to the 1960s and still continues. To reduce the issue of toxic use for private gain by taking it out of the hands of a public authority and reducing it to ridding companies of paper work and red tape is nothing short of criminal. It reveals once again how powerful private interests have seized control of governments at all levels. Amendments to the Clean Water Act by Bill 66 would see the conditions created for another tragedy like the one that took place in Walkerton in 2000.

Schedule 10 may be the most controversial schedule of Bill 66. The opposition was so swift and massive the government says it will be withdrawn yet at this point still remains in the bill. The Ford cabinet says schedule 10 will be withdrawn at committee level. This means that it could actually be amended instead of being withdrawn, or moved to other parts of the bill.

Schedule 10 allows municipalities to pass an "open-for-business planning bylaw." They would have to prove that such a bylaw would lead to the creation of a number of jobs, based on an arithmetic formula that takes into account how many people live in a municipality. If a municipality's project is approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, provisions from nine environmental laws would cease to apply to the area governed by the bylaw. Municipalities and residents oppose this schedule on principle as a denial of the social responsibility of government and demand its complete abrogation.

Second reading also dealt with other aspects of the bill such as Schedule 9 which amends the Labour Relations Act, 1995 so as to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies to be non-construction employers. This means the trade unions currently representing employees of those agencies and institutions, who are now or may be employed in the construction industry, no longer represent them once the bill is passed. Any collective agreement binding the employer and the trade union ceases to apply in so far as it applies to the construction industry. This is clearly meant to de-unionize the construction work that is done in these public bodies and to obstruct and deprive workers of their right to bargain collectively for wages and working conditions agreeable to themselves. Construction work by definition is limited in time and moves from project to project. Construction workers have always had a difficult time defending themselves collectively and this abrogation of their right under schedule 9 will make it even more difficult. At second reading, MPPs of the Ford government said this part of the bill is meant to divert money away from construction workers by finding ways around collective agreements that guarantee wages and working conditions. This comes at a time when the rates of fatalities and injuries in Ontario's construction sector continue to rise and workers are fighting against this devastating trend.

Second reading of Bill 66 further convinces Ontario workers that the entire legislation should be withdrawn. Prescriptive measures and regulations that provide a measure of protection to the people must not be abrogated. The Lac-Mégantic tragedy in Quebec was in large measure caused by the elimination of protective regulations under the hoax that it was preventing the rail companies from growing their businesses.


1. For more information about the content of the bill, read "The Human Toll of the Ford Government's "Job-Killing Red Tape" Campaign," Pierre Chénier, TML Weekly, January 26, 2019.

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Alcoa/Rio Tinto's Manipulation of "Force Majeure"
to Achieve Its Anti-Worker Aims

Workers Demand Legault Government Make
Alcoa/Rio Tinto Meet Its Commitments
on Energy Contract

Protest by ABI smelter workers, March 1, 2019, outside Premier Legault's office. Banner reads "Disgusted by paying for [Alcoa's electricity]."

During the over year-long Alcoa/Rio Tinto lockout of 1,030 ABI smelter workers, a lot of attention has been drawn to the "force majeure" clause in the cartel's hydroelectric contract with the Government of Quebec and Hydro-Québec. Since the lockout began on January 11, 2018 the use of "force majeure" to stop most of Alcoa/Rio Tinto’s contracted energy payments has deprived Hydro-Québec of the sale of more than $250 million in electricity reserved for the cartel.

While working people demand the cartel must abide by the contract, which allows it preferential hydro rates, the Legault government has hidden behind the farce of a "force majeure" depriving Hydro-Québec and the people of Quebec of a huge sum of money and in part financing this unjust lockout and assault on peoples' livelihoods and their communities. The people, with increasing strength of conviction, demand the Legault government enforce the energy contract and not allow Alcoa/Rio Tinto to attack Quebec workers and breach their social obligations with impunity.

The Quebec government and Hydro-Québec arranged new preferential electricity rates for the three Alcoa aluminum smelters at Bécancour, Deschambault and Baie-Comeau which came into effect on January 1, 2015. The deal sets aside blocs of electricity, which Hydro-Québec is obliged to produce and Alcoa is supposed to buy. The arrangement includes a "force majeure clause" defined as the following:

"'Force majeure' means any unforeseeable, irresistible event beyond the control of a Party that delays, interrupts or impedes the performance, in whole or in part, by that Party of its obligations under the Contract. [WF emphasis] Without limiting the scope of what is written above, any one of the following events constitutes a 'force majeure': war, embargo, insurrection, invasion, riot, rebellion, social unrest, epidemic, flood, fire, explosion, lightning, earthquake, ice storm, thunderstorm, sabotage, labour dispute, strike, picketing or lockout (including labour disputes, strikes, picketing and lockouts by the Party which invokes 'force majeure'), as well as any act, omission and any coercion by a court or a public authority (including default or delay in issuing permits despite reasonable efforts in this regard)."

"The Party affected by a Force Majeure Event shall have its obligations suspended only to the extent that it acts with due diligence in order to eliminate or correct the causes and effects of this 'force majeure.' However, the resolution of labour disputes, strikes, picketing and lockouts is at the sole discretion of the affected Party facing these difficulties."

The government and Hydro-Québec granted the new preferential electricity rates following Alcoa's threat to close its three aluminum smelters as of January 1, 2015, if it did not receive new rates even lower than the existing preferential rates. As part of this one-sided negotiation and signing of a new contract under threat of closure, the "force majeure" clause contained in the previous energy contracts was renewed.

Today, the government claims it must abide by the terms of the contract and cannot do anything. Aside from the global cartels forcing these one-sided contracts on public authorities to serve their narrow private interests, the contract clearly states that the "force majeure" must be "unforeseeable, irresistible and beyond the control of a Party." The planned and calculated lockout can in no way be described as "unforeseeable, irresistible and out of its control" and has always been completely under its control and could have been avoided. The fact that the contract contradicts its own words by saying the resolution of the lockout is at the sole discretion of the company shows how these supranational private interests have gained control of public authorities wherever they operate and dictate their narrow wishes.

Before the Alcoa/Rio Tinto cartel locked out the workers it twice withdrew from the bargaining table instead of completing negotiations: in November 2017 and again in December 2017. The company made what it called a final offer in December saying a rejection by the workers would mean in effect the rejection of any further negotiations.

ABI smelter workers, March 1, 2019, outside Premier Legault's office.

The ABI workers resisted the ultimatum and threats and following the holidays, on January 9 and 10, 2018, turned down the offer while acknowledging that the offer could be the basis for an agreement and that a settlement was close. While the union requested a meeting with the company to explain the reason for its rejection of the offer, Alcoa immediately closed the plant and locked out the workers at 3:00 am on the night of January 11, 2018. Not only did the cartel declare a lockout, it shutdown two-thirds of the tanks, which require considerable planning both to shut down and restart. It was obviously a planned move and in no way outside of the control of the company. In contrast, in 2004 when the workers went on strike, the company continued to operate all the tanks for about a month. The cartel's refusal to negotiate, even after being told a settlement was close, was in clear violation of fair collective bargaining but no public authority took any action to hold it to account or force it to pay for the bloc of energy reserved for it.

Other alternatives to a lockout existed for Alcoa/Rio Tinto, which cannot pretend the lockout decision was not its own, forseeable and under its control. Lockouts have become a commonplace weapon of the global cartels, which use their immense wealth, influence with public authorities, global production and control of markets, to isolate pockets of workers and force them to submit to the cartel's demands.

This lockout in Becancour is happening at the same time that Alcoa in Western Australia got Australia's national workplace relations tribunal to nullify the collective agreement of 1,500 Alcoa workers, under the Fair Work Act 2009. Workers' conditions are now being governed by the minimum employment standards' legislation, which means that all the protections that were in their collective agreement regarding job security, subcontracting and related affairs have been wiped out, besides the loss of wages, benefits and pensions. Is what Alcoa achieved in Australia indicative of where they are headed in Quebec? Has the prolongation of the lockout been manipulated to achieve nefarious results such as the ones imposed in Australia with government connivance?

Despite the wording of the "force majeure" clause in Hydro-Québec's contract with Alcoa which leaves everything to do with a lockout to the discretion of the company, the very idea of "force majeure" implies that it is outside of human control. In English, another term for "force majeure" is "Act of God." What is happening at ABI is not out of the company's control. On the contrary, it is a clear manipulation of "force majeure" to achieve anti-worker aims. The balance of forces is so one-sided precisely because the government objectively intervenes on the side of the corporation when it refuses to call the company to order for its manipulation of the "force majeure" clause. If the company had to pay what it owes on the hydro contract for the past 14 months since it locked the workers out, it would not be so blithe in thinking it can just impose its  demands on workers who have been without their wages for all that time.

The Quebec government refuses to defend its own people while siding with the Alcoa/Rio Tinto global cartel. To declare the well-planned lockout as out of the control of the cartel is a farce and exposes the government as a stooge of the global financial oligarchy. The Quebec government must do its duty and force ABI to respect the contract, pay for the block of energy set aside for it, lift the lockout and engage in fair collective bargaining with the smelter workers and their union.

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Locked-Out ABI Workers to Discuss
and Vote on Offer

Locked-out ABI smelter workers visit office of MNA Donald Martel, March 1, 2019.

Locked-out ABI aluminum smelter workers in Bécancour Quebec will vote on their employer's offer at a general membership meeting on March 11. The cartel's offer submitted March 4 includes collective agreements for all three bargaining units, as well as a back-to-work protocol.

The union said it will present its analysis and position on the offer during the general membership meeting. Following the bargaining committee's analysis, the President of United Steelworkers Local 9700, which represents the locked-out workers, confirmed that the offer is very similar to what was on the table when ABI broke off negotiations in mid-February. A back-to-work protocol had not been discussed at that time.

"In terms of the content of the collective agreements, it is basically consistent with the state of negotiations that our members were made aware of at the last general membership meeting on February 23. For the sake of transparency, the union executive has decided to have the employer's offer voted on by secret ballot," explained Clément Masse.

The ABI cartel issued a March 4 press release, which many contend is meant to divert attention away from the important issues that concern workers. ABI begins by highlighting the wage increase estimated at 2.55 per cent per year on average. The union has long said that wages have not been the central issue but rather the cartel's insistence on eliminating stable union jobs and replacing them with precarious contract work.

The ABI cartel's statement clouds the thorny issue of job security for present and future workers stating: "This offer will allow all currently locked-out employees to return to work. It includes work reorganization that respects seniority and does not foresee any layoffs. The proposed agreement will provide flexibility, encompass attrition through an ongoing wave of retirement and improve productivity."

This formulation consistently used by the global cartel fails to present in a straightforward way the crucial issue of what will happen to unionized jobs and the security and benefits of having a permanent position. The wave of retirements is very strong at ABI and will become even stronger over the months and years to come, as the workforce is going through a generational renewal. The cartel's admitted use of attrition as a means to achieve "flexibility" and "improve productivity" opens the door to the elimination of unionized jobs through retirement in favour of outsourcing jobs under much less advantageous working conditions for all workers both unionized and non-unionized contract workers and the community.

As attrition accelerates, the cartel wants to reduce the total number of unionized workers with benefits within negotiated collective agreements to less than the number of contracted workers with no, or fewer, benefits and union rights. The precarious workers become the means to meet the cartel's aim of "flexibility" and "improved productivity" to serve its private interests, not those of Quebec working people and their communities. Attacking workers and their rights and their claim on the value they produce in the name of flexibility and productivity has become the irrational mania of global cartels and their billionaire owners. The cartels constantly complain of "overproduction" within various sectors such as aluminum and steel, yet demand increased productivity from the working class to defeat the "overproduction" of the competition.

The domination of the global cartels over the lives of working people and any nation-building project worthy of the name is front and centre in these disputes. This savage lockout imposed by the Alcoa/Rio Tinto cartel on 1,030 ABI smelter workers for more than a year demonstrates the necessity for a new direction for the economy and nation-building project.

Workers' Forum congratulates ABI workers for the contribution they are making to the struggle in defence of workers' rights and the rights of all in the face of a difficult situation. All workers across Quebec and Canada are with you and wish you a very fruitful general membership meeting to assess the situation.

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Quebec Construction Workers Defend Safety Standards

Workers Call for Release of Report on
Crane Operator Safety

Overturned crane, November 2018.

On February 28, the Independent Committee on Crane Operator Safety tabled its report to Quebec's Minister of Labour. Out of concern for the safety of both workers and the public, the Crane Operators' Union, Local 791G, affiliated with FTQ-Construction, has requested that the Minister immediately make the report public, along with the briefs and testimonies submitted to the committee. In a February 28 statement, the union wrote:

"Since the announcement of the committee's creation in July 2018, crane operators have been impatiently awaiting its conclusions, which must confirm the importance the new government attaches to the safety of workers and the public.

"Local 791G, which represents all crane operators, has been opposing such regulatory changes for several years. In an effort to raise awareness amongst elected officials, the union has tripled its representations to various actors, decision-makers and governmental authorities to express its concerns and propose solutions."[1]

The Coalition Avenir Québec government's Minister of Labour confirmed he has received the report and said that he will first meet with the committee's two members and then decide what steps to take.

Crane operators are determined to have their two demands met: that the new regulation that drastically reduces crane operator training be withdrawn and that compulsory training at the prior level be restored, and that a roundtable be created of all concerned parties, including instructors, to look into the problems linked to the crane operator sector and construction site safety.


1. The regulation brought in last year eliminated the compulsory nature of crane operator professional training, consisting of 870 hours of training provided by professionals in an educational institution. In competition with that vocational training, the Quebec Construction Commission (CCQ) and the former Couillard Liberal government introduced a much lower 150-hour on-site training provided by the companies. They also created a mere 80-hour course for boom trucks with a maximum capacity of 30 tonnes, after which a worker becomes a qualified driver. It is precisely this type of crane that tips over the most and causes the most damage. This was all done without consultation with or approval by crane operators. Crane operators have made a remarkable contribution to worker and public safety by contesting the regulation in various fora and finally refused to work for about a week, in June 2018, to illustrate how serious their opposition was. They received wide support from the public. The government and the CCQ resorted to repression, through a decision of the Administrative Labour Tribunal, which declared that the crane operators' actions amounted to an illegal strike, with the CCQ threatening to prosecute them for "intimidation." Within the context of growing popular support for crane operators and their determination to continue their struggle, the government created the Independent Committee on Crane Operator Safety.

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Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All

Coalition of Migrant Care Worker Groups and Allies Continue the Landed Status Now! Campaign

A Coalition of Migrant Care Worker groups and allies and the Landed Status Now! Campaign issued a joint press release on February 25. The release is a direct response to new government pilot projects announced two days before by the federal government.[1] The press release points out that the government projects are in direct response to the determined campaign for Landed Status Now! for all migrant care workers (

The press release explains that the government has responded to the campaign and given certain concessions but significant issues have not been addressed. The press release notes that the government announcement does include workers in Quebec who remain caught in a web of exploitation and denial of rights.

Through the Landed Status Now! campaign, care workers have spoken out with pride about the essential work they perform, which is necessary for society to function. They speak with social love about the children, the frail elderly and the people with special needs whom they care for. They also speak about the pain of leaving their own families behind, and the precarious conditions of their work because of Canada's anti-social immigration system and labour laws.

The release notes that as a result of the campaign's persistent struggle for the rights of care workers, the government's announcement includes some immediate concessions. Care workers will now be able to bring their families with them to Canada; occupational-specific work permits will no longer be tied to one employer; and, workers who came under the 2014 pilot project can apply for permanent residency with modified conditions during a three-month window this year.

However, the government has failed to meet the most important demand of the care workers and other migrant workers for Landed Status Now! Care workers' temporary status in Canada without guaranteed rights makes them vulnerable to abuse and super-exploitation. This must be ended!

Caring for Children and Caring for People with
High Medical Needs Pilot Projects

Forced family separation of care workers is a stain on Canada, a barbaric form of indentured slavery. The majority of care workers are women; they come to Canada to care for children and frail seniors yet must leave their own families behind. This abuse must stop.

This photo posted on social media on Family Day highlights the forced separation of caregivers from their families.

The government has promised that the new program will end family separation and allow care workers to bring their families. Spouses will have open work permits and children will receive study permits. However, these changes remain as unspecified policy objectives and ministerial orders, not something concrete that guarantees the rights of care workers.

The Coalition of Migrant Care Workers points out that the government must make the changes a reality for all. If children are to receive "study permits," does this mean they will be treated as "international students" with crippling tuition fees? Care workers provide care for people with disabilities and high medical needs yet they are barred from bringing their entire family if one member has a disability. This is unconscionable and must end.

Further, the temporary status of care work, the continued pay inequality between women and men, and low wages for traditionally female occupations mean that many care workers will still have to leave their children behind because of the significantly higher cost of living in Canada.

Ending the devastating human impact of separation of families also requires that provincial governments enforce their labour laws. Despite the laws "on the books" that overtime be paid for work over 40 hours a week, many care workers cannot afford to live away from their employer's residence because of their low pay and long work hours, with no time off or overtime pay.

Care workers will now have an occupation-specific work permit instead of a work permit tied to one employer. This is a positive achievement of the fight care workers have waged for years. Work permits tied to one employer make migrant workers very vulnerable to abuse and have been used by many employers to withhold pay and benefits due to them according to contracts and employment standards, for example working long hours without pay.

Under the new pilot projects, applicants will be assessed for permanent residence criteria before they begin working in Canada. Once caregivers have their work permit and two years of work experience, they can apply for permanent residency. However the requirement for education equivalent to one year of post-secondary education in Canada and more stringent English fluency requirements introduced in 2014 have not been withdrawn.

Interim Pathway for Caregivers

Federal Minister Ahmed Hussen announced the Interim Pathway for Caregivers, which will be open from March 4 to June 4, 2019. Many care workers who came to Canada after 2014 found out that after they completed 24 months of work they could still not apply for permanent residency because they did not meet English fluency or educational equivalencies. Many care workers were left with huge debts paid to human traffickers who masquerade as "immigration consultants" and "recruiters." These human traffickers extort large sums to arrange employment in Canada, only to leave many workers with no hope of becoming permanent residents and Canadian citizens.

The Trudeau government says that it understands the plight of care workers and will assess the situation of those care workers who came after 2014 under the old criteria. During the three-month window this year, workers can apply for permanent residency after 12 months of work instead of 24, and post-secondary education will not be required. The government has also committed to expedited processing within the small three-month window. Migrant worker organizations point out however that many care workers may not even find out about the "window" until it has been closed. Also, workers who have become undocumented have not been included. This failure must be immediately corrected and the right to permanent residency extended to all migrant workers now working and living in Canada.

The government has taken no action to end the extortion of workers by human traffickers, whether in Canada or abroad. No public authority has been established to replace the human traffickers so that the rights of migrants are upheld during the recruitment process for work and after their acceptance, or to provide compensation for the countries involved that have trained their members to become productive and valuable workers.

Further, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will only accept a maximum of 2,750 principal applicants (not including family members) each year under the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilot projects. This reduction in applicants was introduced despite the growing demand for workers in the High Medical Needs Program, and within a national day care program for children and a modern, humane, public seniors care program.

Landed Status Now!

Minister Hussen speaks of the new pilot projects as "immigration projects" when they are nothing of the kind. The decades-long fight for landed status on arrival for all migrant workers cannot be obscured by calling the situation an "immigration project." The pathway to the guarantee of rights for all is still strewn with obstacles and dangers along the way. Care workers and others are not temporary workers and neither should their status be temporary.

The government claims that it understands the importance of permanent residency. Announcing its Public Policy to Provide an Interim Pathway for Caregivers, the government said, "The Department also heard that migrant caregivers face unique challenges, which are made worse by their temporary status. Examples include the often gendered and isolated nature of caregiving occupations; the high incidence of live-in work arrangements, despite the removal of the formal live-in requirement in 2014; and caregivers' dependence on their employers to obtain and provide proof of the Canadian work experience needed to qualify for permanent residence.... [In 2014] the program criteria were changed to more closely align with the Government's approach of selecting economic immigrants on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada." It further says it has established criteria for the caregivers' program consistent with this policy.

These programs and policy objectives have been put in place through a ministerial order and are even called temporary pilot projects. This or another Minister can change them with the stroke of a pen or let them expire. This is what is known as the "rule of law" and what the ruling elite consider "legal" and even "constitutional." In this way the government facilitates human trafficking and the denial of rights on a large scale.

Congratulations are due to the care workers, their organizations and all who have stood firmly to defend the rights of all. Through their courage to speak out and organize despite their precarious situation, they have forced the government to make certain concessions. The situation requires working people and their allies to provide full support to continue the fight for Landed Status Now!


1. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Minister Ahmed Hussen announced on February 23, two new 5-year pilot projects to replace the Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs. The original projects were introduced in 2014 and end in November 2019. Hussen announced the new projects as "caregiver immigration pilots" to "allow caregivers to come to Canada together with their family and provide a pathway to permanent residence."

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Federal Public Service

Day of Action Holds Government to Account
for Phoenix Pay System

Ottawa, February 28, 2019 Day of Action.

Federal public service workers held a Day of Action on February 28 to demand justice and immediate rectification of the chaos sown in the lives of thousands of workers by the Phoenix Pay System. Some 500 workers rallied in downtown Ottawa and blocked entry into two major federal government buildings.

The federal workers provide key services to Canadians, which are the practical realization of people's social and political rights. The workers who provide them must be given the proper conditions to do their important work, including peace of mind that their employer, the Treasury Board of Canada, will pay them promptly and properly.

In its call to action for February 28, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) stated, "Three years after the launch of the Phoenix Pay System, thousands of PSAC members continue to be plagued by pay problems: they are underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

"On this third anniversary of Phoenix, PSAC members will come together to further increase pressure on the government for urgent action. On February 28, PSAC will hold a rally in the National Capital Region to kick off a series of escalated actions around the country in demand of: more concrete action to reduce Phoenix cases; a real timeline to end these pay nightmares; and damages to compensate the hundreds of thousands of public service workers who have been impacted."

Ottawa, February 28, 2019.

PSAC explains that since last year's February 28 Day of Action, the union has:

- Halted the recovery of overpayments and emergency pay until employees' pay files have been cleared of all outstanding transactions, meaning employees will receive any and all funds they are owed before they must reimburse the employer for any overpayments or emergency pay.

- Expanded the Treasury Board's claims process for Phoenix related financial losses.

- Ended gross payback for overpayments. In January, the federal government finally proposed tax legislation so that it can no longer force workers to reimburse the gross amount of the overpayment (CPP payments, income tax deductions, etc.) -- which can be significantly more than the amount they received.

PSAC also says, "At the start of 2019, the Public Service Pay Centre was still facing a backlog of over 280,000 cases. And after three years of Phoenix, about two-thirds of [human resources] data is still being inputted late, causing pay problems across the board. Phoenix continues to also delay the implementation of our collective agreements and the retroactive pay our members are owed."

According to estimates, the total cost to fix the Phoenix Pay System will exceed $1.2 billion with work only completed by 2022-2023. The union is demanding that the government:

- Provide damages to all public service workers for the great financial and emotional hardship they have endured because of Phoenix;

- Provide the additional staffing and training needed to assist members at the Client Contact Centre and the Public Service Pay Centre;

- Reduce Phoenix cases by ensuring HR data is entered on time;

- Eliminate the backlog of Phoenix cases, including implementing collective agreements and delivering retroactive pay;

- Provide a clear and accountable timeline to stabilize Phoenix, eliminate the backlog, and transition to a new pay system.

Government Bargaining Offer Adds Insult to Injury

Charlottetown, PEI, February 28, 2019.

The dedication of federal public service workers to carry on their work despite the hardships caused by Phoenix has been met with an unacceptable bargaining offer by the government.

On December 10, 2018, the union wrote, "The Liberal government tabled a series of offensive counter-proposals in the latest talks between the union and Treasury Board. After months of government delays and insulting offers, PSAC bargaining teams representing 90,000 federal public service workers have declared impasse and filed for a Public Interest Commission (PIC) to help negotiations move forward.

"The government proposed to increase wage rates by only 0.75 per cent per year for four years, well below the rate of inflation, and refused to make the increase retroactive to the start of the term of the collective agreement. In addition, they requested the new agreement only take effect 365 days after it is signed by both parties, amounting to a two-year wage freeze for PSAC members."

"It's outrageous that the Trudeau government won't even come to the table with a serious offer after our members have been waiting three years to get paid correctly under Phoenix," said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. "We've tried to get this government to bargain in a fair and respectful manner -- it's clear we've reached an impasse. Prime Minister Trudeau promised a new relationship with public service workers -- one of respect -- but that couldn't be further from what happened this week. This is a real betrayal."

PSAC reports that the Treasury Board also ignored important demands for improvement in areas such as work-life balance, workload, leave provisions and use of temporary workers.

Aylward added, "We're angry, and we're not going to let the Liberal government get away with this. Every day PSAC members show up to work not even knowing if they're going to get paid properly -- they deserve working conditions that reflect that dedication.... We won't back down until they get it."

Workers' Forum calls on everyone to stand with the federal public service workers in this fight for their rights and dignity.

Valcartier, QC

Thunder Bay, ON

Fraser Valley, BC

(Photos: PSAC, Ottawa and District Labour Council.)

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