Ontario recently passed Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, to increase minimum wage. The bill passed third reading with all party support in the Ontario legislature.
The new act, which supports Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, is designed to further increase protections for vulnerable workers.
The act will help workers by tying future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario, which will be announced by April of each year, and come into effect on Oct.1. It will ensure Occupational Health and Safety Act coverage for unpaid co-op students and other unpaid learners, which will give them protection under the OHSA such as the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to refuse unsafe work.
In addition, the act will: eliminate the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages through Ministry of Labour orders to pay and increasing the period of recovery to two years; expand employment protections to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or foreign temporary employee program; and holding temporary help agencies and their employer clients accountable for certain employment standards violations, such as failure to pay regular wages, overtime pay, and public holiday entitlements.
“Taking the politics out of setting the minimum wage provides fairness for workers and predictability for businesses. This legislation will also protect the most vulnerable workers and level the playing field for employers who play by the rules. These are the right steps to take; they will make Ontario a better place to work and run a business,” said labour minister Kevin Flynn.