The development of a new federal fair wages policy is an important opportunity for the government to strengthen its broader strategy on decent work and, more specifically, avoid the downward pressure on wages in public procurement. Sign if you agree!
In the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, the IBEW worked with both the NDP and the Liberal Party to advocate for certain items to be included in their election platforms. One of those items was to implement a modern fair wages policy. Following the success of the Liberal Party in the 2015 federal election, the Prime Minister issued mandate letters to each minister. The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has completed 4 out of 5 tasks that the IBEW and the broader labour movement advocated for. The only issue not yet accomplished is restoring the federal fair wages legislation that was axed by the Harper Conservatives for their friends at the Merit Shop - a small but powerful group of anti-union contractors.
We know that a fair wages policy will have a positive impact on workers, but it’s important to realize that this is also an opportunity to promote economic efficiency in government procurement by ensuring federal departments and agencies that are contracting work, use responsible employers. Contractors who consistently pay a fair wage and adhere to employment standards and labour laws are more likely to have workplace practices that enhance productivity and increase the likelihood of timely and predictable completion of contracts for the federal government. This requires acknowledgement that a tendered contract that appears to be the lowest bid, may not necessarily be the least expensive option once the project is complete.
The federal government had a fair wages policy under the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, which was repealed in an omnibus budget bill in 2012. This legislation covered contractors and subcontractors in the construction, remodeling, repair and demolition industries. With close to $25 billion in spending every year, the Government of Canada should leverage its procurement contracts to help improve the lives of Canadians.
The government recently closed an online consultation. Now it's time for action!