As the provincial government gears up for an election in 2018, Premier Kathleen Wynne today announced a host of labour reforms, including raising the minimum wage by nearly four dollars an hour and mandating equal pay for part-time/temporary employees doing the same work as full-time workers. The government also proposed measures to restrict companies from “misclassifying employees”.
The plans are based on the recently-released Changing Workplaces Review, which makes over 173 recommendations for potential labour reforms. The review itself covers a host of issues, directly and indirectly relevant to the trucking sector.
Today’s announcement said the government plans to introduce legislation that would:
- Raise Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation;
- Mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies;
- Expand personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers;
- Bring Ontario’s vacation time into line with the national average by ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with a company;
- Require employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.
- Propose measures to expand family leaves and “make certain that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors.”
The government also announced it will hire up to 175 more employment standards officers and launch a program to educate both employees and small and medium-sized businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act.
While all these issues will impact employers to some degree, a key topic for OTA will be how the government proceeds with measures relating to staffing agencies and owner-operator classification.
Although the pending legislation would only affect provincially-regulated carriers, a similar federal report titled Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century (otherwise known as the “Arthurs Report) would cover federally-regulated companies. CTA has been given official notice the feds will be looking at similar issues.
OTA will be working with legal council to assess the potential impact these changes could have on our sector. In the meantime, OTA has also been working with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in voicing concern over some other proposed changes in the Review and will be seeking an opportunity to appear before the committee reviewing this legislation.
As this process moves forward, OTA welcomes input from carriers and will continue to update fleets.
Read the government’s announcement here.