The Ontario Minister of Labour introduced Bill 18 in July, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, which was previously introduced before the last election as Bill 146. The Bill itself is quite broad and includes changes to a number of acts in the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).
OTA members identified particular issue with the section which would amend the WSIA. In essence, these changes would have fundamentally altered the relationship between carriers and temporary staffing agencies. Specifically, Bill 18 proposes to amend the WSIA to attribute the injury and the accident costs arising from the injury of a worker (from a temp agency) to the other employer (the carrier); and, as a result increase or decrease the other employer’s (the carrier’s) WSIB premiums based on the frequency of work injuries or the accident costs or both. In other words, the temporary worker would become the employee of the staff agency’s customer (the carrier) for the purposes of workers’ compensation.
OTA contended that the carrier is not ‘the other employer’. Under current practice, the carrier contracts with the staffing agency to provide a driver – who is an employee of the agency – on a temporary basis, and that this should be maintained unless they could show a problem.
Earlier this week, Bill 18 passed committee with an amendment to the section of Bill 18 dealing with workers compensation and carriers that use staffing agencies. While under this new legislation the Ministry of Labour will retain the right to act in this area should they need to or choose in the future, for now, this section will not be enacted while the WSIB completes its framework review and other alternatives can be considered. OTA is appreciative of the government listening to industry concerns regarding this matter and recognizing the potential for alternative solutions to this problem.
With that being said, it is important to note that there are other sections of Bill 18 that may directly or indirectly impact carriers such as provision related to minimum wage, and for those that are provincially regulated regarding unpaid wages and challenges under the Employment Standards Act (provincial regulated).
OTA member carriers impacted by these changes should contact [email protected]