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OPSEU leader all but endorses Ford Government for 2022 election

OPSEU leader all but endorses Ford Government for 2022 election

The big news was supposed to be the announcement of a hike in minimum wage to $15 an hour, But with an election eight months away two of Ontario’s leading labour leaders delivered some potentially bad news to the Liberals and the NDP. Both UNIFOR president Jerry Dias and OPSEU president Smokey Thomas praised the Ford Government in varying degrees for raising the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 an hour. Doug Ford also announced that the minimum wage for bartenders and liquor servers would go up. This group had previously operated at a lower minimum wage because they were subject to tips. Premier Ford said the pandemic curtailed tips for the alcohol servers and an adjustment was necessary. Dias said his union still has significant issues with the Ford Government but he saluted the minimum wage announcement as a good step forward.

But it was OPSEU leader Smokey Thomas, who represents provincial public servants, who went a step further in his appreciation and in so doing took a not-too-subtle shot at the two progressive parties, in effect endorsing the Ford Tories in the next election.

Thomas told reporters that Premier Ford had reached out to him at the beginning of the pandemic with an offer to work more cooperatively with OPSEU and that he had eagerly accepted the offer.

Special minimum wage rates are also proposed to increase:

Students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session, or work during a school break or summer holidays would see an increase from $13.50 to $14.10 an hour.

Homeworkers (those who do paid work out of their own homes for employers) would see an increase from $15.80 an hour to $16.50 an hour.

Hunting and fishing guides currently have a minimum rate of $71.75 for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and $143.55 for working five or more hours in a day. Their new proposed rate would be $75.00 for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and $150.05 for working five or more hours in a day.

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