The latest news from America’s neighbor to the north is that right-to-work may be coming to Ontario. Labor Notes reports that the Canadian province’s Conservative Party—which recently surged ahead of the union-backed New Democratic Party and the ruling Liberal Party in the polls—may push for the legislation in the coming year.
Ontario’s Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has tried to introduce right-to-work in the past. Earlier this year, he argued that right-to-work “is a debate we need to have in this country because I’m worried about the jobs we’re losing and I’m worried about a decline into Rust Belt status.” He also stated that “in many cases union leaders have become so powerful that many employees in effect have two bosses—their actual employer and the people who run their union.”
Michigan’s sudden decision to go right-to-work last month has brought this issue to the fore once again. Within days of the state’s decision, General Motors announced that it would move its Ontario-based Camaro production line to Michigan. This follows Caterpillar’s decision in February 2012 to move some of its Canadian jobs to Indiana—which had also just passed a right-to-work bill.
The Conservative Party sees which way the winds are blowing. At a time when Ontario’s U.S. competitors are going right-to-work, similar legislation may be the province’s best hope of recapturing lost business and stimulating economic growth. But without it, Ontario might start looking more and more like the Michigan of yesteryear.