Calling On Premier Wynne to Protect Vulnerable Workers

July 19, 2017

Dear Premier Wynne and members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,

Employment standards in Ontario are broken. Workers across the province are slipping through the cracks of faulty legislation that should be protecting them. Over 700,000 people in Ontario depend on temp agencies to connect them with work, yet temp agencies have been allowed to claw back as much as 40% of workers’ salaries, refuse them benefits and drive workers into cycles of instability. 

In my riding of Bramalea - Gore - Malton, across Ontario, and more broadly across the country we have witnessed this instability firsthand. Most of the time, this means that women, single mothers, newcomers, immigrants and youth are left to pay the price for outdated labour laws that don’t stick up for them.

Bill 148 is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

We are calling on your government to put forward amendments that address the following concerns:

Improve protections for temporary agency workers

Temporary agency work creates jobs that are precarious; no benefits, lower pay, and little protection of workers’ rights and job security. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, proposed through Bill 148, should limit the use of temp agencies to exceptional circumstances. Ontario’s labour laws should protect workers, not leave them vulnerable to abuse.

Bill 148 takes two steps to better protect temporary agency workers from inequality of wages and insecurity of work. Amendments are needed to ensure temp agency workers can get equal pay for equal work. More changes are needed to keep temporary agency jobs “temporary” and to create better jobs.

Guarantee equal pay for equal work

Close the loopholes in Bill 148 for equal pay for temp agency workers. Expand the scope of comparable work and limit exceptions for equal pay to close the gaps and prevent non-compliance.

Guarantee equal benefits and working conditions

Ensure that all workers employed through a temporary job agency receive the same benefits and working conditions as permanent full-time workers doing comparable work.

End long-term temporary assignments

  • Require that temporary agency workers become permanent employees of the client company after working a total of three months for the company. The client company and temporary agency would be required to provide just cause if, at the end of the assignment period, another worker is hired to do the work previously done by the assignment worker. This will restrict employer non-compliance.

  • Employers should be limited to 20 percent of their staff that can be assignment employees at any time.

  • Reduce barriers to permanent employment for temporary job agency workers by eliminating agencies’ ability to charge employers a fee when agency-assigned workers are offered full time employment by a client company.

Support a $15 minimum wage

Seven decades of evidence and recent lived experiences of jurisdictions like Alberta, California and New York where the minimum wage is increasing to $15 an hour, show that workers and employers benefit when wages rise. Good employment standards are good for business. Ontario workers have waited far too long for a minimum wage that brings them above poverty. A $15 minimum wage cannot be implemented soon enough.

With these changes, Bill 148 can truly begin to build an equitable workforce where no one is left behind.

With love and courage,

Jagmeet Singh
MPP for Bramalea - Gore - Malton
Candidate, Leader of Canada’s NDP

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