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Ottawa lobby day focused on pensions, pay equity

Three SEP representatives attended the Canadian Labour Congress’s lobby day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to advocate for secure pensions, pay equity and other key issues affecting SEP members and other Canadian workers.

Harout Manougian of Hydro One Local, Renee Frost of Inergi Local and Kendall Yamagishi of the Legal Aid Ontario Lawyers’ Campaign Committee met with members of parliament from the three major political parties. Among the MPs they met were west Toronto Liberals Ali Ehassi and James Maloney, Oshawa Conservative Colin Carrie, and New Democrats Alexandre Boulerice (Quebec) and Irene Mathyssen (London, Ontario).

With 300 CLC activists fanned out across Parliament Hill, MPs were asked to support a workers’ agenda. That agenda includes stopping Bill C-27, the legislation that would weaken defined benefit pension plans; supporting a national pharmacare plan; supporting proactive pay equity legislation; and passing Bill C-4, which would rollback former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s anti-union legislation.

The advocacy effort has already begun to show results. At the end of the lobby day, at a reception hosted for lobby day participants and members of parliament, Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that her government would place a hold on Bill C-27 and begin consultation with workers and their representatives before deciding on further steps. Though that isn’t a full withdrawal of the legislation it is a positive step that could lead to a full withdrawal.

Though Bill C-27 and the other issues brought to MPs’ attention will require further advocacy, Yamagishi says that she “was very glad to explain the importance of pay equity legislation to the MPs as it is an issue that affects many Legal Aid Lawyers directly. Some of the MPs were not familiar with the details of pay equity so it was a good opportunity to do some educational advocacy work.”