Although the Ontario government’s ambitious plan to raise the minimum wage–quite dramatically, to boot–has been controversial, critics have not been able to stop the legislation’s momentum.
Recently, the provincial government announced that it passed its Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act–an act that promises to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, provide equal pay for part-time and full-time workers, expand paid leave and more.
Overall, the act will:
Raise Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation
Mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as employees at the agencies’ client companies
Expand personal emergency leave to 10 days per calendar year for all employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week
Ban employers from requiring a doctor’s sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave
Provide up to 17 weeks off without the fear of losing their job when a worker or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence, including paid leave for the first five days
Bring Ontario’s vacation time in line with the national average by ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer
Make employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time
The government says it’s also expanding family leaves and working to ensure that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors and being denied benefits and protections as a result.
To enforce these changes, the province is hiring up to 175 more employment standards officers and is launching a program to educate both employees and businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act.
“Over the past two years, we’ve heard from people across the province about the need to update our labour and employment laws. Ontario workers deserve fair wages they can live on, as well as safe and fair working conditions,” says Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour. “Too many families struggle to get by on part-time or temporary work. Those working full-time can be living in poverty. This is unacceptable in Ontario. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity.”