After years of organizing, members of the Workers’ Action Centre breathed a sigh of relief on November 6, 2014 as Members of Provincial Parliament gave final approval to legislation that will help curb wage theft, better protect temp agency workers, and peg the minimum wage to annual increases in the cost of living.
“This Bill is an important step forward. Nowhere else in Canada has legislation been adopted that makes temp agencies and their client companies jointly and severally liable for unpaid wages, overtime — and now public holiday pay,” said Weiguang Wu, a member of the Workers’ Action Centre. “These changes will make it easier for temp agency workers to seek redress when they are short-changed on their wages under the law.”
Deena Ladd, coordinator of the Workers Action Centre, said: “Bill 18 extends the time limits on wage theft claims from six months to two years, so workers will have more time to enforce their rights. And by eliminating the current $10,000 cap on wage claims, employers will be accountable for every penny of stolen wages that come due after the changes take effect.”
According to Ladd, Bill 18 allows the government to make temp agencies and their client companies jointly responsible for workplace injuries. “As we stated at the committee hearings, when it comes to temp workers, the client company is, for all intents and purposes, the employer. And that employer must be legally responsible when workers suffer injuries on its jobsite.”
Lorraine Ferns is a member of the Workers Action Centre who has been part of the ongoing campaign for better employment standards from the beginning. “While we applaud the Liberal government for taking these critical first steps in addressing our concerns, there is still a long way to go to make sure that employment laws reflect the reality of today’s workplaces,” she said. “We’re happy for the measures outlined in Bill 18, but we are going to keep organizing for all the changes that we need and deserve.”