On January 26, 2016 Harinder Malhi, MPP for Brampton-Springdale, hosted a community town hall with Honorable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, to discuss the government’s plans to improve labour issues in Brampton.
With members of the community and representatives from various unions in attendance, the forum provided an opportunity to engage in discussion on issues or concerns related to employment. The town hall covered several topics including minimum wage; vulnerable workers; young graduates matching skills with labour market needs; safety; and precarious employment.
Minister Flynn acknowledged that the nature of workplaces is changing and noted that the Ontario government is currently consulting all of the issues raised. “Our government knows that everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work,” Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour said. The Ministry of Labour is reviewing Ontario’s system of employment and labour standards and considering reforms that reflect the realities of the modern economy. Earlier this year, the Government appointed two Special Advisors to lead the Changing Workplaces Review and to conduct public consultations on the changing nature of the modern workplace. The advisors will be providing the government with an interim report over the coming months and their final written report and recommendations in the summer of 2016.
The proposed Employment Standards Act will help by protecting vulnerable workers and making the minimum wage fair. This will be accomplished by expanding employment protections to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or foreign temporary employee program. As well as, set minimum standards to hold temporary help agencies and their employer clients accountable for certain employment standards violations, such as failure to pay regular wages; overtime pay; and public holiday entitlements. It is important that all those who work in Ontario know that there are protections in place to ensure that they are treated fairly and are safe at work.
MPP Malhi’s Private Members Bill, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Temporary Help Agencies), 2015, seeks to strengthen legislation on temporary staffing agencies. Bill 143, has passed second reading and is currently before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy. The three major differences can be seen in licensing; individual pay parity; and hours of work performed by vulnerable workers.
Temporary help agencies are prohibited from operating without a licence and the government would also have the power to suspend and revoke licences.
If the legislation passes, temporary help agencies would be required to pay their employees at least 80 per cent of the fee they charge to their clients for the employees’ services. Temporary help agencies will also have to submit a semi-annual report to the Minister that declares they are in compliance with this requirement.
As well, employers would be required to ensure that no more than 25 per cent of the total number of hours that are worked by their employees are performed by assignment employees. There are exemptions from this requirement for employers with fewer than 10 employees and employers that have experienced a temporary increase in business volume. Employers can also apply to the Director for exemption from this requirement.