Toronto – Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, passed third reading with all party support in the Ontario legislature on Nov. 6, 2014. The legislation increases the minimum wage in the province to $11 per hour.
The new act supports Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and is designed to further increase protections for vulnerable workers. The act will help workers by:
• Tying future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario, which will be announced by April of each year, and come into effect on Oct.1.
• Ensuring Occupational Health and Safety Act coverage for unpaid co-op students and other unpaid learners, which will give them protection under the OHSA, such as the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to refuse unsafe work.
• Eliminating the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages through Ministry of Labour orders to pay and increasing the period of recovery to two years.
• Expanding employment protections to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or foreign temporary employee program.
• Holding 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.
“Taking the politics out of setting the minimum wage provides fairness for workers and predictability for businesses,” said Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour. “This legislation will also protect the most vulnerable workers and level the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”
The new legislation builds on work reflected in recent reports such as the United Way/McMaster University ‘It’s More Than Poverty’ report, prepared by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario research group, and in the ‘Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work’ report by the Law Commission of Ontario.