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Province Helping Vulnerable Workers Collect Unpaid Wages

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Province Helping Vulnerable Workers Collect Unpaid Wages

Additional Protections Extended to Precarious and Foreign Workers

Ministry of Labour

New changes to Ontario's employment laws come into effect today to better protect precarious and foreign workers. 

Starting today, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 will be amended to allow individuals who are hired through a temporary help agency to recover unpaid wages from both the agency and the agency's client-business, where the agency has not paid the wages.

To help strengthen protections for foreign workers, coverage under the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 is also being extended to foreign nationals who are employed or seeking employment in Ontario through an immigration or foreign temporary employee program. Under this new change:

  • Employment recruiters cannot directly or indirectly charge fees for goods, benefits, or services such as recruitment and placement costs.
  • Employment recruiters and employers are not allowed to take or keep property such as passports or work permits belonging to foreign nationals.

These changes are part of The Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 which was passed last year. Amendments from this legislation that are already in effect include: an increase to the minimum wage tied to inflation, a requirement for employers to give out information on employment standards to their employees, a removal of a cap on the amount Ontarians can recover  for wages owed to them by employers and an extension of the time that employees can legally recover wages owed, to two years.

Strengthening protections for vulnerable workers is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Quick Facts

  • Originally, businesses using temporary help agencies did not have any liability for unpaid regular wages, overtime, public holiday and premium pay.
  • There are approximately 100,000 temporary foreign workers in Ontario.
  • Ontario has the largest temporary help agency sector in Canada.
  • Originally, the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act applied only to foreign live-in caregivers, their employers and recruiters.

Additional Resources

Quotes

Kevin Flynn

“Our government is committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly in the workplace and receive the entitlements they’re due. Now companies that use temporary help agency employees will also be responsible if the agency fails to pay those employees’ wages. This will not only help those who work through temporary help agencies but will help level the playing field for employers who follow the rules.”

Kevin Flynn

Minister of Labour

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