TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - May 31, 2017) - Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change (COP-COC) welcomes the labour and employment standards legal reform package proposed by the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Labour, and calls on the Ontario Government to do more to ensure fair and equitable employment opportunities for all racialized communities -- both First Peoples and peoples of colour.

COP-COC is pleased to see the Government adopting many of the recommendations proposed by the independent expert panel on the Changing Workplace Review (CWR), which promises to bring greater equity and fairness for racialized workers.

"We support the increase of the minimum wage to $15 as it will improve the life circumstances of the many Ontarians working precariously at a minimum wage job, many of whom are immigrants and workers of colour," said Vince Wong, Acting Clinic Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

"We urge all the parties to support reforms that will better protect vulnerable workers, including increase of the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work provisions, scheduling protections, and personal emergency leave for all workers; however, we hope that the government will also consider addressing the systemic problems of employee wage theft and failures to collect on orders to pay by bringing back the Ontario Employee Wage Protection Program," added Wong.

COP-COC had also called on the government to introduce strategies to address the colour-coded systemic discrimination in Ontario's workplaces. While there are numerous studies that confirm members of racialized communities -- both First Peoples and peoples of colour -- are denied fair and equal employment opportunities because of their ethno-racial heritage or cultural background, more work is needed to better understand how hiring, promotion and retention barriers are manifested across the Ontario labour market.

"We asked the CWR panel to include legislated employment equity as part of its recommendations to the Government. We were told by the panel that the issue of systemic discrimination in the workplace did not fall under its scope of review. But that should not stop the Government from making fair and equitable labour market hiring, retention and advancement initiatives a key part of the workplace review reform," said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI -- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

"This Government has already undertaken a number of initiatives to address racism in Ontario, including the establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate and the introduction of Bill 114 -- the Anti-Racism Act. It should take the next logical step of bringing back mandatory employment equity to Ontario to ensure fair and equitable labour market outcomes for all communities," added Shalini Konanur, Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

COP-COC looks forward to working with the Ontario Government and all opposition parties to bring fairness and equity in employment to all workplaces in Ontario.

COP-COC is a province-wide initiative made up of individuals, groups and organizations working to build community-based capacity to address the growing racialization of poverty -- for both First Peoples and peoples of colour -- and the resulting increased levels of social exclusion and marginalization of racialized communities across Ontario.

Contact Information:

For more information, please contact:

Vince Wong
Acting Clinic Director
Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Tel: 416-971-9674

Shalini Konanur
Executive Director
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
Tel: 416-487-6371, ext 40