In a Globe and Mail editorial “ Ontario is open for business, but on the back of vulnerable workers.

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In a Globe and Mail editorial “Ontario is open for business, but on the back of vulnerable
workers” the author discusses Ontario’s recently passed bill, Making Ontario Open for Business
Act (“Ontario”). The author argues that the changes are primarily going to have a negative
impact for non-unionized shift workers (“Ontario”). The arguments made throughout the
editorial have the basis of promoting feminist ideas but unfortunately fall short in terms of
explicitly stating that the bill will have a negative impact on different groups of people based on
differing individual factors such as gender, race, and ability. The main way in which this
editorial promotes feminist ideas involves drawing attention to the negative impacts that changes
made to the economy by those in positions of power can have on those who are in subordinate
positions within a society’s power hierarchy. On the other hand, the damage that this editorial
does to feminist topics is not in anything the author explicitly says, but rather in their lack of
acknowledgment of the true impact of this bill on marginalized groups in society.
The author of the editorial discusses the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which
was passed under Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government headed by Doug Ford
(“Ontario”). The Progressive Conservative’s cabinet consists of 21 ministers, including Doug
Ford, of which seven are women, only one third (Rieti). Men in powerful political positions has
been the norm throughout history and continues to be the norm as evidenced by the gender ratios
in politics today. Looking at hegemonic masculinity, which is “the form of masculinity that is
culturally dominant”, being hegemonic relates to roles of authority (Connell 190). This
leadership that is inherently rooted in society’s perception of masculinity continues to function as
a way to keep men in power positions, such as in the government. But not all masculinity is
considered to be equal, as Connell points out, different groups of men have different privileges
associated with their masculinity (190). Visible minorities are among those groups of men whose
masculinity does not carry the same admiration as the white hegemonic masculinity society
promotes (Connell 190). Alongside the lack of women sitting on the Progressive Conservative’s
cabinet there is also a lack of visible minorities, with only one minister being a visible minority
(McQuigge). What the author of the editorial leaves out in the discussion of the new bill is the
people in power who have approved it and who specifically will be most negatively impacted.
The Making Ontario Open for Business Act includes getting rid of an anticipated dollar
increase in minimum wage, dropping two paid sick days, ending the requirements that part-time
and casual employees must be paid the same as full-time employees for the same work and that
employees are entitled to 3 hours wages if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours (“Ontario”).
The author of the editorial argues that the only change that is justified is the cancellation of the
plan to increase minimum wage, stating that the minimum wage in Ontario had been increased
too quickly under the former Liberal government (“Ontario”). All of these changes will benefit
business owners who now can pay their part-time and casual employees less and thus will be
motivated to hire more part-time and casual workers over full-time in order to save money on
labour (“Ontario”).
Those who will suffer the most from this new bill are the 623,000 people in Ontario who
rely on shift work and earning the minimum wage to survive (“Ontario”). According to the
editorial of these 623,000 people the majority are single parents and people over 55 years of age
(“Ontario”). The editorial does not elaborate anymore on the demographics of those 623,000
people, but research from the Wellesley Institute confirmed that between the years of 2003 to
2011 those who were most likely to be working for minimum wage in Ontario include women,
racialized employees, and recent immigrants (Block 4). The Canadian Research Institute for the
Advancement of Women (CRIAW) has found that one in seven women in Canada live in
poverty (65). Minimum wage and poverty are two things that are very closely linked, with
minimum wage not necessarily being adequate to cover the cost of living in many places,
especially in cities (Syed). When women are more likely to be making minimum-wage than men
it is easy to make the connection that women are more likely to be living in poverty than men
are. The editorial leaves this pertinent piece of information out, that the likelihood is that this bill
will have a greater negative impact on women than it will for men, which is a point that relates to
feminism but simply does not get acknowledged.
Not all women will experience the impact of this bill, or the realities of poverty, in the
same way. Mia McKenzie highlights the differences in economic inequality that different groups
of women will experience in her paper The Myth of Shared Womanhood and How It Perpetuates
Inequality (62). The broadest statistic regarding gender and how it influences income is that
women will make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes (McKenzie 62). This fact, like some of
the ones in the editorial, is simply too general to truly be able to gain a real understanding of the
complexities of life among women who do not share anything more than a gender. McKenzie
delves into this statistic by bringing others to light, that black women only make 70 cents to the
male dollar and that Latino women only make 55 cents for every dollar a white man makes (62).
These statistics highlight the jarring reality that race and gender can intersect in areas such as
economics that can make people incredibly vulnerable in a highly capitalistic society. The
editorial does mention the way the bill will exploit economically vulnerable workers, which
brings to light the idea that it is important to look at the ways a society is structured and how
those structures negatively impact certain groups while helping other groups (“Ontario”).
However, the editorial does not state who the economically vulnerable workers are, which
unfortunately helps keep people in the dark about the realities of how personal factors, such as
race and gender, that play no role in the capabilities of a person continue to influence people in
ways that the everyone in society may not even recognize.
The women and visible minorities, and especially women who are also visible minorities,
who will face the brunt of these unfortunate changes to Ontario’s labour policies are almost
entirely excluded from the cabinet in which these decisions come from. With only seven women
and one visible minority sitting on the council that is making decisions that statistically will
affect the groups that they belong to the most it is easy to see how their voices could be
overshadowed by the 13 others (McQuigge; Rieti). As McKenzie points out, those with the
loudest voices often do not allow the less-heard voices to speak and bring in the perspective of
their own experiences (63). This editorial brings forward feminist topics regarding economically
vulnerable workers but unfortunately falls flat in outright stating who the economically
vulnerable workers are most likely to be. Intersectional feminism looks at the variances in
privilege within differing populations in a society, taking into consideration aspects such as
gender and race when looking at issues such as poverty and economic class differences (CRIAW
66). What the author of this editorial did not do was highlight the factors that play into who is an
economically vulnerable worker, outside of simply stating that single-parents and people over
age 55 were the most common groups of people to rely on shift work and minimum wage to
survive (“Ontario”). This editorial managed to get in some valuable points about power
differentiations, which could easily lead into a conversation about the intersectionality of
economics, gender, and race, but ultimately it did not elaborate into those topics.
Works Cited
Block, Sheila. Who Is Working For Minimum Wage In Ontario? Wellesley Institute, October
2013, https://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Who-MakesMinimum-Wage.pdf.
Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. “Intersectional Feminist
Frameworks: A Primer.” Gender and Women’s Study: Critical Terrain. Edited by
Margaret Hobbs and Carla Rice, 2nd ed., Women’s Press, 2018, pp. 63-9.
Connell, Raewyn. “Understanding Masculinities: The Work of Raewyn Connell.” Gender and
Women’s Study: Critical Terrain. Edited by Margaret Hobbs and Carla Rice, 2nd ed.,
Women’s Press, 2018, pp. 190-1.
McKenzie, Mia. “The Myth of Shared Womanhood and How It Perpetuates Inequality.” Gender
and Women’s Study: Critical Terrain. Edited by Margaret Hobbs and Carla Rice, 2nd ed.,
Women’s Press, 2018, pp. 62-4.
McQuigge, Michelle. “Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet criticized for lack of diversity.”
Global News, 29 June 2018. https://globalnews.ca/news/4306035/doug-ford-ontariocabinet-diversity/
Rieti, John. “Ontario PC cabinet puts big-name politicians in top roles.” CBC, 29 June 2018.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-pc-cabinet-1.4728145.
Syed, Fatima. “Minimum-wage earners in Toronto do not make enough money to thrive, report
says.” The Star, 3 October 2017. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/10/03/torontoresidents-do-not-make-enough-money-to-thrive-report-says.html

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