WORKERS’ ACTION CENTRE: New protections for Ontario workers announced today

Action Alert: Workers' Action Centre

New protections for Ontario workers announced today

Workers in Ontario have won important new protections against wage theft under new legislation introduced today.

The new bill introduces many changes that Workers’ Action Centre members and supporters across the province have been calling for through the Stop Wage Theft campaign.  If passed the new legislation would:

  1. Give workers 2 years to claim unpaid wages
  2. Get rid of the unfair $10,000 limit on the unpaid wages that can be claimed
  3. Make temp agencies and client companies jointly liable for ESA violations
  4. End WSIB rating system loopholes that provided an incentive for companies to use temp agencies
  5. 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.  The government pledged to bring in more penalties for employers who violate the law and indicated the need to continue to make further changes to address precarious employment.

The bill will be tabled at Queen’s Park later this afternoon. We will share more analysis in the coming days.

WAC speaks out

WAC members spoke out today about the new protections:

“Wage theft is increasing across Ontario because many employers know there is virtually no cost to breaking the law. We have been fighting to make sure workers, including temp agency workers, have better protection at work. We now need the government to use stronger and more effective enforcement tools to fully protect workers on the job.” – Tom Wu

“Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers 2 years to file claims is a significant victory for Ontario workers, especially migrant workers. If these laws had existed a few years ago, I could have claimed the thousands of dollars of my stolen wages immediately rather than being forced to go to court. – Senthil Thevar

In a front-page Toronto Star article featuring the changes WAC coordinator Deena Ladd stated  “the way things are now, a client company can have someone working for them for five years as a temp worker but never be held responsible for any of their working conditions…under this bill, these companies will now be held jointly liable – which means they would have to think about their business practices.”

We also need to make sure temp workers get equal pay for equal work and to close the gaps so that all workers covered under the law.

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 WAC’s Stop Wage Theft campaign here
Read more about the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change #makeitright campaign here and MWAC’s analysis on proposed changes here

Copyright © 2013 Workers’ Action Centre, All rights reserved.

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Workers’ Action Centre
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Toronto, Ontario M5S 2T9


Join us at a Feast for Fairness

Action Alert: Workers' Action Centre

Feast for Fairness

Join us at a Feast for Fairness at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market!  Help us win a minimum wage increase for all workers!

Saturday October 12, 10:30am to 12pm
St. Lawrence Market
Meet at the corner of Front St. E and Jarvis.
(1 block south of King St. E) Toronto

Look who’s putting food on our table
This Thanksgiving weekend, many low-wage workers are resorting to food banks in order to get by and restaurant workers continue to see their wages stagnate. Many migrant workers are excluded from minimum wage laws altogether.

Join the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage  and Migrant Workers Alliance for Change as we demand an immediate increase to the minimum wage to $14 and ending minimum wage exemptions for all workers!

Under the banner of “Poverty Wages? NO THANKS!” this event will be just one of many province-wide actions taking place around the Thanksgiving weekend calling for a $14 minimum wage, and in alliance with the Raise the Rates Week of Action from Oct. 14-20.

Find out more here

Make it Right Campaign

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers.  This affects us all.  It’s time to Make It Right!

WAC is a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.  Read more and take action below:

We are launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers. This affects us all. It’s time to #MakeItRight. We are #InItTogether.

Our first action is a Feast for Fairness on Saturday, October 12, at 10:30am at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.  More details..

All workers, including agriculture workers, should be protected equally under Ontario’s labour laws. All workers should be entitled to minimum wage and overtime. They should be able to enforce these rights without worrying about being too late or having to under-claim how much they are actually owed by employers. Learn more…

All workers should be protected from being charged illegal and exorbitant fees by recruiters and agencies. Recruiters and employers should be registered, and the provinces and feds should work together with workers’ home governments to make sure that protection is effective across all borders. Learn more…

Going home after work should be a relief but many migrant workers have no relief from the stress of work since they live at or near their workplace.  They deserve decent housing and this requires inspection, enforcement, regulation, and viable alternatives. Learn more…

Farm workers need strong health and safety protections at work; domestic workers should be included in occupational health and safety laws; and all migrants should have immediate access to health services and other benefits that all Ontarians get. Learn more…

Migrant workers need stronger protections to make workers rights complaints and proactive enforcement of their rights. Migrant workers should have the right to change employers and stay in the country for settlement or employment standards purposes. Learn more…

Tell the Leaders of Ontario’s Provincial Parties that they must work together to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and protections as all other Ontarians. Take action now!

Copyright © 2013 Workers’ Action Centre, All rights reserved.
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