Ontario Passes Fair Wage Legislation to Protect Workers
New Policy to Level the Playing Field for Workers on Government Contracts
Ontario passed legislation today that will ensure people working in construction, building cleaning or security jobs under contracts with the government will be paid the fair, prevailing wage in those sectors.
The Government Contract Wages Act, 2018 allows Ontario to establish minimum rates of pay for workers under contract with the government in those jobs. The Director of Government Contract wages may establish minimum government contract wages and shall consider any relevant information and sources, including: collective agreements, Statistics Canada data, and other government sources. Private-sector contractors and subcontractors will be required to pay according to those rates. The Act also provides a number of ways for employees to recover their wages and includes an anti-reprisal mechanism.
The legislation builds on historic actions Ontario has already taken to create more opportunity and security for workers and help them get ahead in a rapidly changing economy. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 passed last fall, took action to protect workers by:
- Raising the minimum wage to $14 this year and again to $15 on January 1, 2019
- Ensuring equal pay for equal work for part-time, casual and seasonal workers performing substantially the same duties as full-time workers
- Creating up to five days of paid leave and up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave for survivors of gender-based violence
- Mandating 10 days of emergency leave for all workers, including two paid days, because no one's job should be at risk if they need to deal with a serious family or personal emergency.
- Ontario’s original Fair Wage Policy was developed in the 1930s and was last updated in 1995.
- The refreshed Fair Wage Policy will apply to contracts with all government ministries, and with specified government agencies and Crown corporations. It will cover building security and cleaning services in government owned and occupied buildings, and four construction sectors: roads; heavy engineering; sewers and water mains; and industrial, commercial and institutional.
- The Fair Wage Policy wage schedules will be developed through consultation with partners and stakeholders to ensure that they are evidence-based.
“Everyone in Ontario should be paid fairly for the work that they do. By updating Ontario’s Fair Wage Policy, we are ensuring that the Ontario government is doing its part as an employer. We are committed to building a fair and safe workplace for all Ontario workers and employers, and the Fair Wage Policy is a key part of that plan.”