Responding to workers’ organizing for decent work, the Ontario government re-introduced legislation to index the minimum wage to inflation and and bring in new protections against wage theft.
The new bill introduces many changes that Workers’ Action Centre members and supporters across the province have been calling for.
If passed the new legislation would:
- Index the minimum wage to the cost of living
- Give workers 2 years to claim unpaid wages
- Get rid of the unfair $10,000 limit on the unpaid wages that can be claimed
- Make temp agencies and client companies jointly liable for ESA violations
- End WSIB rating system loopholes that provided an incentive for companies to use temp agencies
- Ban recruitment fees for all migrant workers
The Ministry of Labour also announced that they will fulfill their 2008 commitment to $10 million for proactive employment standards enforcement.
Lilliane, a Workers’ Action Centre member spoke out about the new wage theft protections: “Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers two years to file claims is a real victory for Ontario workers. I was forced to go to court to claim my stolen wages – now more workers can file complaints when they face wage theft.”
While these are important steps forward, if we want to see decent work in Ontario, we need these bills strengthened and more protections introduced – including stronger protections for temp agency workers and migrant workers. Temp agency workers earn up to 40% less than people hired directly. Let’s step up the fight for equal pay for work regardless of our employment or immigration status.
Indexing the minimum wage to inflation is an important step, but we can’t stop there. We need the minimum wage raised to at least $14 per hour to bring full-time workers above the poverty line. Otherwise, Kathleen Wynne is legislating poverty wages for the 1.8 million workers* earning under $14 in Ontario.
We must ensure that the good gains in this legislation that we have fought years for are passed into law. But we also need to work to improve protections in this legislation for low wage, migrant, temporary agency and people in precarious work.
As this bill goes through the legislative process, we’ll be organizing to ensure key amendments make it even stronger. We need your help to ensure we can pass the strongest protections possible. Contact us to speak to your local MPP, make a deputation or help spread the word!
Recruitment fee ban just a first step
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and other migrant worker groups have documented how migrant workers pay an equivalent of two years’ salaries in fees in their home countries to unscrupulous recruiters and agencies to come work in Canada.
Extending the ban against recruitment fees to all migrant workers is an important first step in taking action to stop recruiter abuses. However, the Ontario government must take steps to license recruiters and make employers jointly liable for violations in order to crack down on exorbitant recruitment fees. This is just one change among other comprehensive protections for migrant workers that are needed.
Read more about the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change #makeitright campaign here
* SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA, LABOUR FORCE SURVEY, CUSTOM TABULATION S_0514_12.ivt