An employer has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for over $125,000 in unpaid wages owing to 61 employees. Steve Blondin and his six companies were prosecuted after they did not comply with 113 orders from the Ministry of Labour to pay workers’ wages. In addition to the jail term, the Ontario Court of Justice ordered Blondin and his companies to pay fines of $280,000.
Prosecuting employers who do not pay workers’ wages is an important way for the Ministry of Labour to demonstrate that there can be serious consequences for breaking the law.
Unfortunately, very few employers have ever gone to jail for employment standards violations, despite widespread examples of wage theft in Ontario. A recent survey of low-wage workers by the Workers’ Action Centre found that 1 in 3 workers reported being owed wages from their employer. Only 4% of those owed wages had made a complaint to the Ministry of Labour. When found guilty of an employment standards violation most employers face no penalty at all.
The Workers’ Action Centre regularly carries out bad boss visits to employers owing wages to workers. On a daily basis we see employers’ confidence that they will face no consequences for wage theft.
While this case sets an important precedent, it also highlights the need for stiffer penalties for wage theft, especially for repeat violations. We need to see more prosecutions of employers who ignore Ministry of Labour orders to pay. Workers in Ontario need stronger protection to ensure they are paid for their work and protected against wage theft.
Find out more about more about our Stop Wage Theft campaign and how to get involved here.