Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has promised to ensure the needs of Canadian workers are being addressed by having a seat on the boards of directors.
“Too many decisions at major corporations are being made without the people who helped build the company – the workers – at the table,” O’Toole said on Monday. “Canada’s Recovery Plan will give workers a real voice within these companies to support the long-term success of their employer, and ultimately, their ability to make a living.”
To ensure workers’ needs are heard at the very top, an O’Toole government will require federally regulated employers with over 1,000 employees or $100 million in annual revenue to include worker representation on their boards of directors.
Federally regulated sectors include aerospace, trucking, marine shipping, rail, oil and gas, mining, telecommunications, and banking. Together, these sectors employ hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers across the country.
“As we work toward recovery, we have an opportunity to ensure Canadian workers go back to better jobs,” said O’Toole. “Canada’s Recovery Plan will stand up for workers and deliver jobs for all Canadians.”
But the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) says, O’Toole’s policy announcement was short on details and left more questions than answers.
The CLC raised many questions about the plan. Would worker representatives have the same rights and powers as the other Board directors? Will they have access to all the same financial and corporate information? What sanctions would O’Toole impose on companies that refuse to comply?
CLC also asked if O’Toole can name any CEOs of federally regulated companies he has spoken to who welcome scrutiny of their corporation on issues like executive compensation by the workers they employ?
“Erin O’Toole won’t provide details because he knows full well his policy has no teeth and is a non-starter for these companies,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Mr. O’Toole’s record is one of attacking workers and weakening unions. His opportunistic rhetoric and empty promises today do nothing to change that.”
Bruske added that while Erin O’Toole sat around the cabinet table, Conservatives signed on to short-sighted trade deals that exported away thousands of good jobs and an investment deal with China that exploited workers, put the environment at risk and left Canada vulnerable to being sued by China.
Bruske also questioned O’Toole’s plan to secure workers pensions and prevent executives from taking bonuses unless pensions are protected when companies go bankrupt.
“Mr. O’Toole and the Conservatives’ platform doesn’t say if workers and pensioners will come before banks and money lenders,” said Bruske.
“Conservative Erin O’Toole’s rhetoric just doesn’t match his record. He has repeatedly failed to support pensioners – and even wrote a law to make it easier for corporations to walk away from pension obligations,” he added.