Legislation Soon To Protect Vulnerable Workers in Ontario

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TORONTO: The Ontario government intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would require temporary help agencies (THAs) and recruiters to have a licence to operate in the province.

Proposed changes would enable officers to levy penalties against an unlicensed THA or recruiter or a business who is using an unlicensed operator.

As well, those who use deceitful recruiters could be required to repay workers for illegal fees charged. Ontario is also proposing to hire a dedicated team of officers to crack down on THAs and recruiters who exploit and traffick domestic and foreign workers.

“From day one, my ministry has worked to ensure any employer who abuses the rights of their workers – no matter their passport – will quickly find our officers at their front door,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“This announcement sends a clear message to anyone who still thinks they can break the rules that time is up. This legislation would, if passed, be the toughest of its kind in Canada – ensuring every worker in Ontario has unprecedented protection today and, in the years to come.”

Inspections by ministry officers have shown that there are multiple temporary help agencies in Ontario that are illegally paying people below the minimum wage and denying other basic employment rights.They gain an unfair competitive advantage over lawabiding agencies.

“ACSESS endorses the establishment of a licensing regime ensuring that all temporary help agencies comply with their legal obligations,” said Mary McIninch, Executive Director, Government Relations of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services.

“This initiative creates a level playing field and results in a fairer industry for THAs, clients and assignment employees alike.”

Under the legislation, THAs and recruiters would be vetted before being issued a licence to operate. Applicants would need to provide an irrevocable letter of credit, that could be used to repay owed wages to workers. Penalties could be issued against unlicensed agencies /recruiters as well as firms who use them.

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