Justice and Dignity for Cleaners: Nelia Bettencourt

The Mayor of Toronto wants to outsource the jobs of hundreds of city cleaners and turn them over to low-wage contractors. There are already too many jobs in Toronto that pay poverty wages. Good Jobs for All wants Toronto to move forward instead of backward. We think cleaners in every sector deserve to make a living wage.

As a city, we can stand up for good jobs that will not just raise standards for workers, but also strengthen our neighbourhoods and communities. Contact your City Councillor and tell them that we should defend good jobs in our city.

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Nelia Bettencourt

“I’m a Heavy Duty Cleaner at the Toronto Police Service. I wash the floors, steam the carpet, clean the cells and washrooms, pick up garbage and more. I’ve been doing this for 9 years. We are there every day, and we are all almost like family to each other. There’s a familiarity and trust we’ve developed and that’s important, especially in a police station where there’s sensitive information and security issues.

I used to work with a private cleaning company where I made $11 an hour and got only five hours a day with no benefits. That’s how they made their money. I had to work two jobs. Now at the city, I have a decent wage, benefits, and more job security.

Unfortunately, if the Mayor outsources cleaning to a private company, not only will I be let go, but those standards will also go down. Personally, it scares me to think about how I would support my son’s medical expenses with no job and no benefits. There are many more people like me with families to support.”

There are already too many jobs in Toronto that pay poverty wages.

In some cases, the companies involved in contract cleaning have grown immensely rich from their operations. Some are in the Fortune 500, with revenues in the billions. Others are cut-throat operations that have a history of exploiting immigrants and violating employment standards.

But there is more at stake here than poor wages. The plan to outsource jobs will start in police stations, where the question of security has always been a major concern. As outsourcing spreads into other facilities such as long-term care, any attempt by companies to cut corners can have a major impact on the health or safety of vulnerable residents.

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