Ministry of Labour changes could help to level the playing field for some of Ontario’s most-vulnerable workers.
The Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act was introduced Dec. 4 by Minister Yasir Naqvi. It would remove the cap on unpaid wages, increase the recovery period to two years, make temp agencies and their clients responsible for employment standards violations, and bring both placement students and temporary foreign works into the fold, for employment protection. More inspectors will be hired, too, the ministry says.
In particular, the Act would:
- Eliminate the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages
- Increase the recovery period to two years
- Make temporary help agencies and their clients liable for employment standards violations, helping to decrease the number of companies that hire individuals solely to work in unsafe conditions
- Prohibit employers from charging fees and seizing personal documents from temporary foreign workers
- Extend the application of the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or temporary foreign employee program
- Boost workplace protection for students who participate in for-credit, unpaid co-op placements
The number of temporary foreign workers in Ontario rose from 91,000 in 2008, to 120,000 in 2012.
Some estimates indicate that hundreds of thousands of Canadians work in unpaid internships