Latest News in Ontario: Taking Steps to Protect Vulnerable Workers

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Last month, the Ontario government devised provincial legislation to crack down on employers who use untrustworthy temporary help agencies (THAs). The legislation aims to protect workers, especially those classified as vulnerable workers. 

Workplace safety is a constant concern. Farms, retirement homes, food processing facilities and warehouses who used THAs in 2020-2021 were investigated. It was determined that employees were owed a little over $3.3 million - with only half of that amount having been recovered as of October 1, 2021.

What the Ontario Government Intends to Propose

Legislation requiring THAs and recruiters to possess a licence to operate within the province is waiting to be passed. Officers will be permitted to levy penalties for unlicensed THAs, recruiters, and businesses using an unlicensed THA.

Businesses who used untrustworthy agencies may also be forced to repay workers for any illegal fees that they were charged. THAs and recruiters will be screened prior to receiving a licence to operate. THAs and recruiters who apply for a licence will be required to provide an irrevocable letter of credit that could be used to repay owed wages to workers.

The Ontario government intends to hire a strong team of officers before the licensing system is enforced to recover exploited workers’ unpaid wages and repay owed wages to them. Additionally, the team has the responsibility to adopt a zero tolerance regarding illegal practices and labour trafficking. 

Thus far, the plan is to have the licence requirement in place as of 2024, provided that the legislation is passed.

What This Means for Domestic and Foreign Workers

With the Ontario legislation potentially coming into play, it will hopefully mean that there won’t be a repeat incident of the labour trafficking ring that was discovered in February 2019. 

Third-party recruiters were charging workers illegal fees while exerting control over their movements. Sixty migrant workers were rescued by the Canadian Border Services Agency, Barrie Police, and Ontario Provincial Police.

The proposed legislation will make sure that temporary help agencies comply, thanks to enforcement initiatives, creating a much fairer industry for their clients and assignment employees alike. There will be better working conditions and relations for domestic and migrant workers who will be paid minimum wage or higher and have all other basic employment rights enforced.

The good news is that this proposed legislation will be the strongest of its kind ever seen in Canada because it will establish unprecedented protection today and in the future.

Working with Multiple Temporary Help Agencies in Ontario

If the legislation goes through, it will hopefully put an end to multiple temporary help agencies using crooked business practices and disregarding basic employment rights to benefit from an unfair competitive advantage. 

Law-abiding agencies, such as Workker, have legal obligations to their clients, whether they are employers or employees. We have been expanding our database for over 30 years, working with reputable businesses and vetted candidates. Workker stands behind this new licensing regime, ensuring that we meet all legal obligations. 

Contact us today to start using Workker.

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