Legislation & Public Policies
In June 2017, the Ontario government proposed changes to Ontario employment and labour laws. The government introduced Bill 148 (2017), An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995.
OCASI welcomes Bill 148 and its potential to strengthen existing protections for immigrant, refugee and migrant workers as well as all other Ontario workers who are disadvantaged and excluded from basic protections.
Over the past few weeks, my time has been taken up with government relations obligations: consultation with the Federal Minister responsible for immigration; discussions with the Provincial Ministry (of Citizenship and Immigration) and their new Refugee Resettlement Unit; participation on the Global Migration Compact Advisory Committee and my work on the Provincial Working Group charged with developing a roadmap for Income Security Reform.
This short month with the longest day in the year is unfolding with a packed legislative and policy agenda at all levels of government. From the City of Toronto (where OCASI’s offices are located) to Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill, announcements from our elected leaders have been raining down from on high: Most of it good.
Earlier this month the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released the report Under Suspicion: Research and Consultation Report on Racial Profiling in Ontario. It is chockful of personal examples of how racial profiling tears at the soul of those profiled, reinforces the sense of otherness that many who are racialized experience, and undermines the social cohesion we so desperately need if this Canadian political project of diversity and inclusion is to be a success.
The Bill was introduced in the Legislature on March 29, 2017 by Michael Coteau, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism. If passed, legislation would embed the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate in law, creating a framework for continued work to promote equity for racialized groups across the province. The Bill would enable the government to mandate race data collection and an anti-racism impact assessment framework, to apply an anti-racism perspective to public sector policies and programs.
OCASI and many others across Canada are calling on the Canadian government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US. Asylum seekers that enter Canada from the U.S. through regulated border points are subject to the Agreement, and may not be allowed to stay to make a refugee claim. Many Canadians are concerned about the health, safety and well-being of asylum seekers who are crossing the border into Canada at unregulated points, while others mistakenly believe they are breaking the law and should be stopped.
Law students released the results of collaborative work from 22 Canadian law schools on the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), the result of a law students research-a-thon begun in February 2017. The report concludes that Canada’s continued participation in the STCA violates our international obligations.