OCASI made ten recommendations to the Ontario government in the Council's 2016 Pre-Budget Submission.
10 OCASI RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ONTARIO BUDGET 2016
1. Minimum Wage – Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would bring workers to at least 10% above the poverty line. We welcome government action last year to index the minimum wage, and making a commitment to periodic review for adjustments. We are concerned however that indexing the minimum wage started at a baseline of $11 an hour, which is well below Ontario's low income measure.
2. Mandatory Employment Equity - Bring back mandatory employment equity in Ontario to level the playing field for all racialized communities and other historically disadvantaged groups including youth, so that they would truly benefit from any Ontario job creation strategy. Establish a fully mandated and adequately resourced Equity in Employment Secretariat, in order to ensure merit-based employment across the province through the implementation of mandatory & comprehensive employment equity programs.
3. Employment Standards Legislation – We welcome the various amendments that have been introduced to the Employment Standards Act. The government must do more to strengthen the enforcement of the ESA to ensure all workers rights are protected, including giving the Ministry of Labour the needed resources to investigate and audit employers.
4. Employment Programs for Immigrant Workers – Continue to invest in initiatives that can benefit immigrant workers, such as Bridge Training Programs, create apprenticeship and skills training opportunities for racialized immigrant youth, and other historically disadvantaged groups, and ensure that workers with little or no attachment to the labour market (not EI eligible) receive skills training and employment support.
5. Immigrant Settlement Services – Sustain investment in immigrant settlement services, including investing in targeted services for francophone immigrants.
6. Equity and Anti-Racism Directorate – Establish the Equity and Anti-Racism Directorate to provide for the collection and analysis of ethno-racially and otherwise appropriately disaggregated data across all provincial Ministries and public institutions. In order to respond to any identified inequities and disparities, the Directorate would complement this data gathering and analysis by providing an ongoing monitoring and program development role for the effective implementation of comprehensive and inclusive equity and anti-racism policies and practices.
7. OHIP 3-month wait – Eliminate the three month wait for OHIP for immigrants. In light of the facts presented earlier regarding the disproportionately high incidence of low-income among recent immigrants, this legislation is causing unnecessary hardship and contributes to the growing disparities. Most other provinces in Canada have already introduced measures to exempt recent immigrants from this requirement and Ontario should follow suit.
8. Investment in Legal Aid – Sustain funding for Legal Aid Ontario while ensuring that all refugee claimants have the same access to legal aid services, without regard to the country of origin.
9. Child benefit - Eensure that all Ontario children, regardless of the source of their parents' incomes, get the full benefit of any new federal child benefit that is created, by continuing to specifically exempt federal child benefits from social assistance incomes and by ensuring that OW and ODSP benefits are not restructured in any way.
10. Other Targeted Poverty Reduction Measures - We urge the Government to collect and track disaggregated data across all Ministries, Departments and other relevant institutions in order to identify racialized and other structural and systemic disadvantage, and develop clear definitions and indicators, in order to help get full & consistent pictures as to who and why are the poor in this province. Establish clearly identified goals and specific benchmarks and indicators in order to best measure and monitor the progress of any poverty reduction plan as it relates to racialized & other historically disadvantaged and marginalized communities.
Read the full submission here.