Skip to main content

Major shifts in composition of Ontario labour movement

The last ten years has seen a growth of 240,000 in unionized public sector workers in Ontario.  That's an increase of 35% (from 679,000 to 919,000) according to data in a new report from the Canadian Labour Congress.

Most of this growth, however, is simply due to growth in the public sector labour force, rather than an increase in the percentage of   public sector workers who are organized (or "public sector union density").  The percentage of public sector workers who are unionized increased only modestly, from 68.6% to 70.7%.  That is still a lower public sector union density than exists across all of Canada, which now sits at 74.9% (a small increase from 73.9% a decade ago).  

Despite the modest increase in public sector union density, the rate of unionization of all Ontario workers actually fell slightly, from 28.3% to 27.9%. This is due to the rather sharp decline in the rate of private sector unionization: from 18.1% to 14.9%.  

Not only did the rate of private sector unionization fall, so did the total number of private sector unionized workers, from 711,100 to 640,000. While the trend downwards in private sector union density occurred pretty much over the entire decade, the drop in the actual number of private sector unionists happened exclusively in recent years -- 2008 and 2009 (with a very slight recovery in 2010).  

Manufacturing and the resource extraction industries saw sharp declines in union membership and union density.  

With these trends, two new developments are evident. First, slightly more union members are now women rather than men.  Second, there are  more public sector union members than private sector union members.  While in 2000, there were 711,100 private sector unionists and  680,000 public sector unionists, there are now only 640,000 private sector union members but 919,000 public sector members,  i.e. there are 43.5% more public sector union members than private sector union members.

Both of these are firsts for the labour movement in Ontario. 

But the decline in private sector unionization (especially in the historical core of the labour movement in manufacturing and resource extraction) bodes ill for public sector workers.  Public sector workers have a vital interest in the health of private sector unionization: without them, we are much weaker.  

The labour movement needs to find ways to organize new categories of private sector workers.


Popular posts from this blog

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.

Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 

No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

More spending on new hospitals and new beds? Nope

Hospital funding:  There is something off about the provincial government's Budget claims on hospital capital funding (funding to build and renovate hospital beds and facilities).   

For what it is worth (which is not that much, given the long time frame the government cites), the province claims it will increase hospital capital spending over the next 10 years from $11 billion to $20 billion – or on average to about $2 billion per year.  But, this is just a notional increase from the previous announcement of future hospital capital spending. 

Moreover, even if we did take this as a serious promise and not just a wisp of smoke, the government's own reports shows they have actually funded hospital infrastructure about $3 billion a year over the 2011/12-2015/16 period.

So this “increase” is really a decrease from past actual spending. Even last year's (2016-17) hospital capital funding increase was reported in this Budget at $2.3 billion - i.e. about 15% more than they have ann…

Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …