OTA recently provided its comments to the Ontario Government’s Bill 148, fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.
While most of the media coverage has focused on the proposed increase of minimum wage, there are other elements of the bill that OTA noted in its submission to Minister Flynn, Premier Wynne, and Minister Del Duca as they relate to provincially regulated entities.
While Bill 148 proposes not to change the definition of employee in the Employment Standards Act, it does look to set the ground work for stiffer penalties for the misclassification of contractors, along with other changes related to the Labour Relations Act. OTA requested a meeting with the Government of Ontario to seek clarification on this section of the Bill.
“When it comes to owner-operator classification for provincially regulated entities, OTA believes what the industry needs most of all is clarity on how the independence test is measured,” said Stephen Laskowski, OTA, President. “Without clarity for carriers and owner-operators alike, tougher penalties for misclassification do little to help the industry comply.”
Treatment of Part-time & On-Call Employees
It is proposed that beginning April 1, 2018 part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees performing the same job as full-time employees would be paid equal to full time employees when performing the job for the same employer. Temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies would also be paid equally to those permanent employees.
The legislation also proposes several exemptions based on specific measures related to different pay models. OTA is asking for clarification on the application of this criteria for the trucking sector.
The legislation proposes that employees, after having been employed for three months by a provincially regulated entity, would have the right to request schedule or locations changes. Further, Bill 148 states that all employees would be permitted to refuse shifts if asked to work with fewer than four days notice. Employees “on-call” who are not called into work would be paid for three hours, at their regular rate for fewer than four days notice. Employees “on-call” who are not called into work would be paid for three hours, at their regular rate, for each 24-hour period that they are on call. If a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start, affected employees would be entitled to three hours pay at their regular rate.
OTA has proposed to the province, like the equal wage component, that clarification be provided on whether sectorial exemptions would be applicable for this portion of the bill.
OTA understands a healthy economy must include a workforce which is paid a fair living wage; and that there is a need to increase minimum wage over time as a part of this process. The question is, how, when and what sectors should this wage increase impact? OTA believes the answer could reside south of the border, where New York State went through a similar minimum wage increase debate.
“From the outside, it appears that New York State has performed a detailed analysis, measured the need and impact of increasing minimum wage in various parts of their jurisdiction, and has developed a plan for different businesses to adjust. The current approach being taken in Ontario lacks this regional and economic analysis,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “OTA is not asking the Province to reconsider the move to a $15 minimum wage, but instead urging it to reconsider how such a policy is implemented, clarify which sectors and regions the policy will apply to; and how quickly it will be brought in – very much in the same way New York State appears to have approached this issue.”
The Bill currently passed first reading and is being debated in Committee at Queens Park. As the Bill moves through the legislative process OTA will have additional information for its membership.