Passing of Ontario’s new temporary worker laws good news for Scarborough man

News Nov 05, 2014 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

After years of delays, Ontario’s Liberal government is ready to pass a bill guaranteeing more protection for its temporary workers.

That will be welcome news for Wing Kong, a university graduate who has worked a temporary warehouse job for minimum wage over the past year, he said, to pay student loans and support his aging parents.

“I handle chemicals and am exposed to dust, bugs and all sorts of debris on a daily basis. I know the work that I do is unsafe but like my co-workers, I am worried if I speak out, I may not have a job the next day,” the Scarborough man told the province’s Standing Committee on General Government last week.

Often doing the work of directly hired employees earning much more, temp agency workers at the warehouse - “stuck in between two employers, afraid to ask for any of our rights or even to take an unpaid day off when we are sick” – have been there for years, some for as many as 15, he said.

Expected to pass Thursday, Nov. 6, after having its third and final reading this week, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, contains new protections for temporary workers advocates have fought at least five years to get.

It would make temp agencies and host companies jointly liable for wages and overtime pay for temp workers, and amendments passed on Monday extended that to public holiday and premium pay.

Following opposition filibustering on related bills while they had a minority government, the majority Liberals had given the impression they would rush Bill 18 through.

Eleventh-hour changes, though, have left the Workers’ Action Centre, one advocacy group, satisfied the legislation has been significantly improved.

Instead of six months, temporary workers will have two years to file a complaint with the province over withheld wages.

Bill 18 had proposed requiring workers to wait six months before claiming wages above a $10,000 cap, but this waiting period was cut Monday to three months.

The government seems eager to hear how people will respond to its legislation: Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong has scheduled a forum on temporary workers, with an appearance by Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, for 7 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 10 at Agincourt Collegiate on Midland Avenue.

Deena Ladd, co-ordinator of the WAC, said the group hopes the bill paves the way for bigger changes to how the province protects the precariously employed.

Advocates want larger penalties for companies who deny temp workers their pay or employment rights, and Ladd argued the new, tougher protections would be hard to enforce, so long as the labour ministry remains “completely under-resourced and underfunded for the job it’s doing.”

Temp workers usually feel too vulnerable to come forward with complaints while still at a job, and employers prey on that vulnerability, she added.

The number of complaints temp workers have made about host companies seems to be unknown, as is the number employed by temp agencies in Ontario, Ladd said.

Passing of Ontario’s new temporary worker laws good news for Scarborough man

Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong hosts meeting on changes on Nov. 10

News Nov 05, 2014 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

After years of delays, Ontario’s Liberal government is ready to pass a bill guaranteeing more protection for its temporary workers.

That will be welcome news for Wing Kong, a university graduate who has worked a temporary warehouse job for minimum wage over the past year, he said, to pay student loans and support his aging parents.

“I handle chemicals and am exposed to dust, bugs and all sorts of debris on a daily basis. I know the work that I do is unsafe but like my co-workers, I am worried if I speak out, I may not have a job the next day,” the Scarborough man told the province’s Standing Committee on General Government last week.

Often doing the work of directly hired employees earning much more, temp agency workers at the warehouse - “stuck in between two employers, afraid to ask for any of our rights or even to take an unpaid day off when we are sick” – have been there for years, some for as many as 15, he said.

Expected to pass Thursday, Nov. 6, after having its third and final reading this week, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, contains new protections for temporary workers advocates have fought at least five years to get.

It would make temp agencies and host companies jointly liable for wages and overtime pay for temp workers, and amendments passed on Monday extended that to public holiday and premium pay.

Following opposition filibustering on related bills while they had a minority government, the majority Liberals had given the impression they would rush Bill 18 through.

Eleventh-hour changes, though, have left the Workers’ Action Centre, one advocacy group, satisfied the legislation has been significantly improved.

Instead of six months, temporary workers will have two years to file a complaint with the province over withheld wages.

Bill 18 had proposed requiring workers to wait six months before claiming wages above a $10,000 cap, but this waiting period was cut Monday to three months.

The government seems eager to hear how people will respond to its legislation: Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong has scheduled a forum on temporary workers, with an appearance by Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, for 7 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 10 at Agincourt Collegiate on Midland Avenue.

Deena Ladd, co-ordinator of the WAC, said the group hopes the bill paves the way for bigger changes to how the province protects the precariously employed.

Advocates want larger penalties for companies who deny temp workers their pay or employment rights, and Ladd argued the new, tougher protections would be hard to enforce, so long as the labour ministry remains “completely under-resourced and underfunded for the job it’s doing.”

Temp workers usually feel too vulnerable to come forward with complaints while still at a job, and employers prey on that vulnerability, she added.

The number of complaints temp workers have made about host companies seems to be unknown, as is the number employed by temp agencies in Ontario, Ladd said.

Passing of Ontario’s new temporary worker laws good news for Scarborough man

Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong hosts meeting on changes on Nov. 10

News Nov 05, 2014 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

After years of delays, Ontario’s Liberal government is ready to pass a bill guaranteeing more protection for its temporary workers.

That will be welcome news for Wing Kong, a university graduate who has worked a temporary warehouse job for minimum wage over the past year, he said, to pay student loans and support his aging parents.

“I handle chemicals and am exposed to dust, bugs and all sorts of debris on a daily basis. I know the work that I do is unsafe but like my co-workers, I am worried if I speak out, I may not have a job the next day,” the Scarborough man told the province’s Standing Committee on General Government last week.

Often doing the work of directly hired employees earning much more, temp agency workers at the warehouse - “stuck in between two employers, afraid to ask for any of our rights or even to take an unpaid day off when we are sick” – have been there for years, some for as many as 15, he said.

Expected to pass Thursday, Nov. 6, after having its third and final reading this week, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, contains new protections for temporary workers advocates have fought at least five years to get.

It would make temp agencies and host companies jointly liable for wages and overtime pay for temp workers, and amendments passed on Monday extended that to public holiday and premium pay.

Following opposition filibustering on related bills while they had a minority government, the majority Liberals had given the impression they would rush Bill 18 through.

Eleventh-hour changes, though, have left the Workers’ Action Centre, one advocacy group, satisfied the legislation has been significantly improved.

Instead of six months, temporary workers will have two years to file a complaint with the province over withheld wages.

Bill 18 had proposed requiring workers to wait six months before claiming wages above a $10,000 cap, but this waiting period was cut Monday to three months.

The government seems eager to hear how people will respond to its legislation: Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong has scheduled a forum on temporary workers, with an appearance by Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, for 7 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 10 at Agincourt Collegiate on Midland Avenue.

Deena Ladd, co-ordinator of the WAC, said the group hopes the bill paves the way for bigger changes to how the province protects the precariously employed.

Advocates want larger penalties for companies who deny temp workers their pay or employment rights, and Ladd argued the new, tougher protections would be hard to enforce, so long as the labour ministry remains “completely under-resourced and underfunded for the job it’s doing.”

Temp workers usually feel too vulnerable to come forward with complaints while still at a job, and employers prey on that vulnerability, she added.

The number of complaints temp workers have made about host companies seems to be unknown, as is the number employed by temp agencies in Ontario, Ladd said.