CBC News Ottawa: Here's what marchers at this year's Labour Day parade are fighting for

Posted September 5, 2018

Everything from international trade deals to the local job market topped the minds of people taking part in this year's Labour Day parade.
 
The annual parade got underway just before noon Monday, with workers, unions, and advocacy groups marching from Ottawa City Hall to McNabb Park on Gladstone Avenue.
 
Ottawa was one of the first cities to host a parade, according to the Ottawa and District Labour Council, with the first one being held in 1872.
 
Canada did not officially designate Labour Day as a holiday until 22 years later.
 
Here are some of the main labour-related concerns that matter to participants in this year's parade.
 
Minimum wage
 
Ontario's minimum wage was raised to $14 an hour this year, but labour advocates like Aisha Abdunnur argue it's still not a living wage.
 
"So many people are still kind of working towards being able to just pay for their basic needs," said Abdunnur, who was marching with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
 
The minimum wage was set to rise again to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019, but the newly elected provincial government has vowed to axe that plan and instead offer a tax benefit.
 
"It was a big shock, honestly," said Abdunnur. "But we're still fighting."
 
NAFTA talks
 
With the municipal election on the horizon, Ottawa and District Labour Council president Sean McKenny said candidates should look beyond minimum wage to attract high-paying jobs to the city.
 
"We think jobs that pay above minimum wage are jobs that we need to create here, where people feel good about going to work each and everyday," he said.
 
But McKenny also has an eye on the NAFTA negotiations that could affect workers both in Ottawa and across North America.
 
"We think it's important that workers in [all three] countries end up being the winners of any type of agreement," he said.
 
Safe workplaces
 
Workplace safety is the main concern for Richard Brown, a school support staff worker and a negotiator with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.
 
Brown said violence in schools is an increasing concern for both school support and maintenance workers.
 
"We've had members who've been beat up throwing garbage out at night," he said.
 
Another concern for Brown is the fact that past budget cuts have led to a lack of school staff able to fill in when someone falls ill.
 
Proper compensation
 
Richard Hudon lost part of his leg while working in construction when he was 17. 
 
He said he was told at the time to use a saw that had no safety guard.
 
For him, Labour Day is about workplace safety and ensuring those who are injured on the job are properly compensated.
 
Now 74, Hudon said he's had difficulties getting replacement prosthetics covered by the provincial government.
 
"All of the workers still have to fight to maintain what we've gained," he said.
 
 
***
Article source: CBC News Ottawa