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Statement by the Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour regarding Labour Day

  • Issued: September 4, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: September 2015

Ontario has a deep connection to the origins of Labour Day, which became an official holiday in Canada in 1894. In 1872, the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike over their members’ 58-hour work week. At that time, union activity was a criminal offence in Canada, and the members of the strike committee were arrested and jailed. Other unions showed their support by staging a parade to support the strike. By the next year, union activity was legalized and protected in Ontario.

Since then, organized labour in Ontario has fought for and helped to secure a number of workers’ rights, including paid vacations and public holidays, overtime pay and enhanced health and safety laws and regulations, among others.

The work to modernize labour laws in Ontario continues to this day. As the nature of the province’s workplaces continues to evolve, our government is currently consulting on changes to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in order to better protect workers, including vulnerable workers, while supporting businesses in our changing economy.

We know that good labour relations help build a stable economy, and I am confident that our labour partners will continue to provide sound advice and counsel as we move forward.

This Labour Day, while you are enjoying the holiday with family and friends, take a moment to reflect on the day’s origins and the society that those pioneering union members helped us create.