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Statement by the Hon. Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour on Labour Day

  • Issued: September 1, 2017
  • Content last reviewed: September 2017

As we prepare to celebrate Labour Day weekend with our friends and loved ones, I think it’s fitting that we take a moment to reflect on the efforts of those men and women who worked hard to bring about better working conditions for all Ontarians.

Labour Day dates back to 1872, when the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike and marched to Queen’s Park to fight for a nine-hour work day. It was a time when labourers worked for low wages under conditions we would all now find appalling. Workplaces were often dirty, poorly lit and often not heated, and workers were exposed to many hazards. Union activity was also illegal then, and two dozen members of the strike committee from the Toronto union were arrested and jailed.

We’ve come a long way since those hard-fought battles waged by trade unions working hard to establish a collective voice for change. Since then, organized labour in Ontario has helped secure some of our most cherished workers’ rights, including paid vacations, public holidays, overtime pay, and better health and safety laws. With their help, we continue to modernize our labour and employment laws to ensure workers and businesses thrive in this 21st century global economy.  

A key component of this is ensuring that fairness and decency remain the values that define our workplaces. Our government is moving forward with a landmark package of measures that will increase the minimum wage, ensure part-time workers are paid the same hourly wages as full-time workers, introduce paid sick days for every worker, and step up the enforcement of our employment laws.

I’m proud of the proposed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act because it will ensure that every hard-working Ontarian has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity. It will build a province where greater opportunity and greater security are available for everyone.

As we move forward to make Ontario a better place to live and work, let us remember our common goals. And, on this Labour Day, let us take a moment to remember those advocates from our past, and recognize those who continue to work to build safer workplaces and a fairer society.

Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour