Workers' Action Centre

Workers' Action Centre

July 16, 2014 10:26 ET

Ontario Workers Win New Protections as Wage Theft and Minimum Wage Bills Re-introduced

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 16, 2014) - The Ontario government has responded to the growing crisis of low-wage precarious work and demands of workers to step up protection by introducing new legislation today. The Liberals have re-tabled their bill to index the minimum wage to inflation and have re-introduced legislation that brings some protections against wage theft.

Under the proposed wage theft legislation both temp agencies and client companies would be liable for unpaid wages and overtime and it would be harder for companies to contract out unsafe work to temp agencies. In addition, workers will have up to two years to file employment standards claims, with no monetary limit.

"Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers two years to file claims is a real victory for Ontario workers" says Lilliane Namukasa, a former migrant worker who is owed unpaid wages well over the $10,000 limit. "I was forced to go to court to claim my stolen wages - now more workers can file complaints when they face wage theft."

"Indexing the minimum wage to inflation is an important step, but we can't stop there," says Sonia Singh, of the Workers' Action Centre. "We need the minimum wage raised to at least $14 per hour to bring full-time workers above the poverty line. Otherwise, Kathleen Wynne is legislating poverty wages for the 1.5 million workers earning under $14 in Ontario."

"The Ontario government is recognizing migrant worker abuse at the hands of recruiters, but real protections for migrant workers are still missing" says Liza Draman of the Caregivers Action Centre. "Ontario must follow provinces like Manitoba and license recruiters and register employers who hire migrant workers. Employers must be held financially responsible if workers pay fees and migrant workers need comprehensive new protections to ensure equal rights at work."

"These proposed bills give workers some important new protections, but if we want to see decent work in Ontario, we need these bills strengthened and more protections introduced," says Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre co-coordinator. "Beefing up protections for temp agency workers and migrant workers and ensuring fair wages for all workers in Ontario are critical steps forward."

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