The Law Commission of Ontario provides the provincial government with over 50 strong recommendations on how to improve the precarious working conditions of vulnerable workers.
Toronto (22 Aug. 2012) - A new interim report released by the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) shows that work today has become more precarious, less secure, has fewer benefits, if any and workers have less control over working conditions than ever before. The report, Vulnerable Workers Interim Report, contains a number of draft recommendations meant to help either reduce their vulnerability to, or the impacts of, precarious work.
The report stems from the LCO's Vulnerable Workers/Precarious Work Project which has been reviewing the protection available to these workers and the coverage of this type of work under specific legislation designed to protect workers.
The Project focuses, in particular, on improvements to the statutory and policy framework of the Employment Standards Act (ERA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act in protecting precarious workers. According to the LCO "precarious work is characterized by job instability, lack of benefits, low wages and degree of control over the process. It may also involve greater potential for injury." It has found that in Ontario, approximately 22% of jobs could be characterized as precarious work and the precarious workers can be found across the spectrum of society but women, racialized persons, immigrants, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, older adults and youth are disproportionately represented.
“The LCO’s Interim Report on Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work is a response to the increase in precarious work and the predominance of women, immigrants and/or racialized persons in this work,” said Dr. Patricia Hughes, Executive Director of the LCO.
In addition to recommending changes to legislation, the Project also reviews and makes recommendations about existing community and government supports and programs for workers, employers and for training and education, as well as the role of labour organizations.
In this interim report 52 recommendations are provided to the provincial government, such as:
- investigate providing a benefit program for workers, which may include a benefits bank and mandatory short-term contract premium for temporary workers, among other options;
- expand time limitations to two years for all ESA remedies and raise the ESA monetary cap to $25,000;
- ensure adequate resources for ESA compliance and enforcement, with a particular emphasis on proactive enforcement;
- amend the ESA to include a process for expediting complaints of reprisals and, in the case of migrant workers, ensure that such complaints are heard before repatriation;
- implement a pilot mobile medical clinic service for migrant workers in rural areas where they reside providing access to medical care and corresponding support to facilitate WSIB claims, where appropriate and provide direct service or translation in the language of the migrant worker.
The report's recommendation to amend the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) by explicitly including the elements of bargaining in good faith protected by section 2(d) of the Charter as identified by the Supreme Court of Canada in Health Services and affirmed in the Fraser decision echoes the call the National Union of Public Employees (NUPGE) has been making in its Labour Rights are Human Rights campaign for several years.
The LCO is looking for feedback on the recommendations by Monday, October 1, 2012 in order to release the final report in Winter 2013.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE