By Monte McNaughton (Pulled directly from National Post – Aug. 2019)
When I was growing up, my parents taught me lessons I hold dear today: the value of hard work, the importance of finding a good-paying job and looking out for the safety of myself and those around me. These are principles I share with many workers across Ontario.
I’ve never belonged to a union. But growing up, working in my family business, our town’s local Home Hardware Building Centre, I certainly worked alongside union members. Every day, union members and non-union workers from various building trades would come in and I would load lumber, drywall or whatever they needed into their trucks.
The people of Ontario expect me to get on with my job, find common ground, and make life better for workers across the province.
As Minister of Labour, I will chart a fair and reasonable course. My goal is to preside over an era of peace and prosperity — for both labour and business.
We all need to come together: labour, business and government. In my first few weeks on the job, I’ve reached out to more than 100 labour leaders. My message has been clear: I want to hear from you. We’re not going to agree on everything. But my door is always open.
We agree that hard work pays off, that good jobs are important, and that everyone deserves to come home safe at night
What I’ve heard across the board is that we must continue to prioritize health and safety. When I first became Minister of Labour, I was shocked to learn that between 2014 and 2018, 24 young workers in Ontario lost their lives on the job.
One death at a workplace is too many. Every mom and dad deserve to know that their child will return home after a good day’s work.
So my first announcement as Minister of Labour was a health and safety blitz targeted at protecting young workers.
This is an issue that I’ve been passionate about since my days at Home Hardware. I was proud to take charge of setting up the first joint Health and Safety Committee for the 70 employees at our store.
Another item we share in common: the belief that our government should focus on creating good jobs that help build Ontario’s future.
Our government has created 126,000 new full-time jobs since taking office. The unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent. Wages have risen three per cent since last year — higher than the rate of inflation.
We are on the right path.
I was proud to see our premier announce $144 billion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years.
We’re going to need more carpenters, electricians, painters, boilermakers, plumbers and others to perform this work. These are well-paying, important jobs.
I live in beautiful Mount Brydges. My next-door-neighbour and good friend Bill has been a union member for more than 30 years. He’s an industrial insulator. His work is tough and requires a lot of skill.
Bill and I agree on a lot of things. We agree that hard work pays off, that good jobs are important, and that everyone, no matter whether they work at a desk or swing a hammer, deserves to come home safe at night.
On Monday, I will proudly join workers who built this province up. I want all workers to know that I respect what they do. And that my door is always open.