At a recent Retail Council of Canada (RCC) Health and Safety Committee meeting, Bill 18’s treatment of temporary workers was raised, in light of its potential impact on WSIB premiums.

Bill 18 proposes to amend The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would:

  1. Add the definition of ‘temporary help agency' to this Act. This definition includes employers whose primary business is lending or hiring its workers to other employers on a temporary basis for a fee.
  2. Assign any workplace injury and accident costs a temporary worker suffers to the employer, not the temporary help agency that lent out the worker's services.
  3. Mandate the employer give notice to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within three days of a temporary worker's injury, if the worker required healthcare or is unable to earn full wages. The employer could also be charged a fine for failing to comply with this notice requirement.

Under the current law, employers incur the WSIB premium and experience rating surcharge costs of the employees that they hire. Bill 18 proposes to carve out an exception to this well established principle by transferring the premium and accident costs of injuries to workers employed by staffing agencies to the WSIB account of the staffing agency’s client. It is our view that the Bill 18 amendments will have a very negative impact on the Ontario workplace safety and insurance system and set a dangerous precedent as this is not done anywhere else in Canada.

RCC is part of a coalition that is challenging the bill on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act changes. The coalition is lobbying the ministry to eliminate the amendment to the Act and maintain the status quo. As part of our lobbying efforts, the coalition has sent a letter to the minister of Labour outlining its position on the issue. RCC will participate in consultations on the Bill over the next few months.

The proposed legislative amendments have only just passed First Reading.

In addition, the legislation proposes to amend various employment and labour statutes. The legislation, called the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, would make the following changes if enacted:

To the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act would:

  1. Require employers to provide their employees with the most updated informational poster from the Ministry of Labour. Employers would also be required to provide translations of the information where necessary.
  2. Tie the minimum wage to the Ontario Consumer Price Index. The new minimum wage would be announced each year on April 1st, and would come into force on October 1st of the same year.
  3. Provide new protections for assignment employees. Temporary help agencies and their clients would be required to maintain certain records in respect of assignment employees, and would also be held liable for certain unpaid wages owing to assignment employees.
  4. Allow employment standards officers to examine an employer's records or practices to determine whether the employer is in compliance with the Employment Standards Act. The officer would be required to give written notice to the employer before the examination.
  5. Remove the $10,000 cap on wages an employment standards officer could award to an employee owed by an employer.
  6. Extend the time limit employees could recover wages against employers from six months, or one year in certain cases, to two years.

To the Labour Relations Act, 1995. The Act would:

  1. Decrease the period trade unions could apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for certification on behalf of employees in a construction industry bargaining unit, from three months to two months.
  2. Decrease the period that unionized construction industry employees can apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for a declaration that a trade union no longer represents their bargaining unit, from three months to two months.

To the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990. The Act would:

  1. Expand the definition of ‘worker' to include: secondary, or post-secondary students who participate in an authorized program for no monetary compensation; a person who receives training from an employer but who is not yet an employee; and other persons who provide work for an employer for no monetary compensation.

Bill 18 may be accessed here.

RCC will provide updates as the bill passes through its next stages.

If you have any questions about this Bill, please contact: Gary Rygus, Director, Government Relations (Ontario) at:  [email protected] or 416-467-3744