Turning Ontario’s vanishing blue-collar manufacturing jobs into stable, well-paying “green-collar” employment in the emerging green economy should be central to poverty-proofing the province, says a new report.
Ontario has the second-largest manufacturing workforce on the continent after California, yet the province seriously lags behind American states in retooling shuttered factories for the green industries of the future, notes the report, entitled Work Isn’t Working For Ontario Families.
“In the United States, cross-sectoral coalitions ... are working to create jobs and renew the manufacturing sector by focusing on green economic opportunities,” says the report for Campaign 2000, the Toronto Labour Council and the Ontario branch of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Campaign 2000 is a national non-profit coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to ensuring Parliament lives up to its pledge to eliminate child poverty by 2000.
“Government has a leadership role to play providing policy frameworks, incentives and direct support for the development of new green manufacturing and services,” the report says.
As Ontario loses manufacturing jobs, too many Ontario workers are becoming trapped in bad jobs with lousy wages, few benefits and no security, says the report’s author Ann Decter, head of Campaign 2000.
Turning those bad jobs into good jobs is key to lifting children out of poverty, maintaining social order and ensuring the province’s long-term economic prosperity.
The 27-page report, to be released at Queen’s Park today, calls on the McGuinty government to kickstart the transformation by updating provincial labour laws, removing barriers to unionization of low-wage workplaces, investing in public goods and services and turning Ontario into a manufacturing hub for new green industries.