What our movement won in Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act:
Equal pay for part-time, casual, contract, and temporary agency workers doing the same work as full-time and permanent workers will come into effect as of April 1, 2018. Misclassification of employees as independent contractors, which robs these workers of labour law protections, has now become illegal. The government has begun the process of reviewing the 85 exemptions and special rules that leave 76% of workers without full protection under the ESA. We also won some improvements in enforcement, including the ability for workers to be awarded interest on unpaid wages; measures to make it easier to go after employers who shut down and start up as new businesses in order to avoid paying wages they owe; and the doubling of the number of Ministry of Labour staff doing enforcement.
For too many years in Ontario, workers in part-time or temporary jobs made as much as 40% less than full-time or permanent workers doing the exact same job. Our victory on equal pay will help eliminate the financial incentives for employers to turn decent full-time permanent jobs into precarious part-time and unstable jobs. But there is more work to be done to make sure employers cannot continue to use temp agencies and sub-contractors to evade their responsibilities to workers, especially when it comes to workplace injuries.
The government has launched a review of exemptions, focusing on several large categories of workers that are currently not covered by many essential labour standards. We must continue to push for all exemptions to be eliminated so that labour standards in this province are truly universal. The current system of enforcing the law leaves workers waiting sometimes years to recover stolen wages, and allows employers to make violating the law just a part of doing business. We need to ensure that the government does more to enforce the labour standards in workplaces, by protecting workers who stand up for their rights and making employers pay stiffer fines for breaking the law.