Ontario Temp Worker Protection Bill Receives Royal Assent

May 8, 2009, 2:48 PM EST


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Workers employed through temporary work agencies in Ontario will now be granted new workplace protections after the passing of Bill 139 into law on May 4.

The Bill will effectively end fees charged to workers by temporary agencies, reduce barriers to permanent work, ensure workers receive public holiday pay, require agencies to provide information on employment standards rights and provide equal access to agency termination and severance protections under the employment standards act.

The passage of Bill 139 marks an historic moment for temporary agency workers in Ontario, recognizing for the first time in provincial law the unsatisfactory and precarious working conditions these individuals face, said Peggy Nash, assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Bill 139 also declares both temporary work agencies and client companies legally responsible when a worker is penalized for trying to enforce their rights, a provision that should empower workers to directly address workplace health and safety and human rights issues with their employers without fear of reprisal, Nash said.

"The fight for fairness for agency workers is far from over, but the passage of Bill 139 proves we are moving in the right direction," said Cammie Peirce, co-ordinator of the CAW Brampton Chrysler workers action centre. "Over 70 per cent of the job postings our action centres receive right now come from temporary employment agencies. There's no doubt temp agency work dominates in an increasingly weak labour market."

In a statement released on May 4, the Toronto-based Workers' Action Centre lauded the legislative improvements but also called for stronger workplace protections and regulations for other vulnerable workers in the province, including those working part-time or on temporary contracts, many for low pay and few protections against employment standards violations. 

"Employers are moving more work beyond the protection of employment standards - hiring people indirectly through intermediaries, disguising employment as independent contracting, and shifting more business costs onto workers who have little power to refuse," says Deena Ladd, co-ordinator of the Workers' Action Centre.

It is estimated that 37 per cent of Ontario workers are employed in non-standard part-time or contract positions, or through temporary agencies.  There are 700,000 temporary agency workers currently employed in Ontario.

Bill 139 will come into effect in November of this year.


 

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