Media Advisory: Cleaners in Federal Properties in Ottawa Demand Government Implement a Living Wage Policy

Close to One Third of Cleaners in the City Work in Federal Properties yet Make Poverty Wages

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - June 19, 2015) - Ottawa area cleaners will be joined by supporters at City Hall on Saturday to call on the Conservative government to introduce a Living Wage Policy which includes $15 per hour and health benefits in federally owned properties.

The Service Employees International Union Local 2, representing nearly 2,500 cleaners across the city, and Acorn Canada, will be launching the 'Invisible No More Campaign' in an effort to raise awareness about standards in the janitorial industry in Ottawa. A Living Wage policy could lift thousands of local working families out of poverty.

"I think the government should be embarrassed," says Ramses Pierre-Louis, who's been working in the janitorial industry for over 20 years and currently cleans at the Canadian Museum of Nature. "Their policies hurt working families in Ottawa and it's about time we stood up for change."

Panel of Speakers & Invisible No More Campaign Launch

Saturday June 20 @ 12:00 PM

City Hall - Champlain Room @ 110 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa, ON


  • Nycole Turmel - NDP MP
  • Catherine McKenny - City Council
  • Trish Henessey - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ottawa area cleaners


There are over 3,000 cleaners in the City of Ottawa; most are immigrants and more than half are women. Close to 1,000 work in federally-owned properties where most earn as little as $11.50 per hour and have no medical benefits.

At issue are the policies contained in the Janitorial Services National Strategy, prepared by Public Works and Government Services Canada in 2011.

The JSNS provides Public Works and Government Services Canada's contracting authorities, guidelines for awarding janitorial contracts at federally owned properties. The most problematic elements of the government's policies include: awarding contracts to the lowest qualified bidders; no effective provisions to exclude labour law violators from winning contracts; no provisions for the rising cost of living; and no provisions for minimum wage increases.

These policies have resulted in a systematic downward pressure on working conditions and are fuelling a race to the bottom for cleaners.

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The Service Employees International Union is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and two million workers across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

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Jill O’Reilly