The Peel Regional Labour Council is very concerned about the big business assault on working conditions of “Gig Workers”. These plans, if enacted, would make “Gig Workers” into a permanent underclass of workers who are not entitled to the bare minimum standards that the Employment Standards Act (ESA) provides. Recently the Ford Government’s Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) made significantly regressive recommendations that would do just that.
If the government were to go through with these plans the future of all our workplace rights are at risk. We are seeing expansion of what is considered “Gig Work '' in all sectors of the economy, from delivery to education. The purpose behind minimum standards is that they are the bare minimum protections that workers have access to. The ESA provides protections such as rights to minimum wage, pensions, severance, vacation pay, overtime, and breaks. It also provides mechanisms to advocate for rights when they are violated. The recommendations by the OWRAC aim to say, those minimum protections, don’t apply to a large segment of the workforce.
We know that the vast majority of “Gig Workers” are racialized and many are migrant workers and students. This legislation’s immediate effects would be making a predominately racialized workforce a permanent underclass. Here in Peel Region, we have seen the rise of gig and app based work. We know that these jobs are challenging and rarely bring home enough money to cover basic household needs. These positions are very precarious and allow big corporations to outsource expenses and liabilities onto the employee in contravention to the ESA.
However, it is important to note that these plans won't simply impact vulnerable workers in the “Gig Economy” but would have an impact on all workers. If adopted, such proposed legislation could encourage many employers to re-classify existing and new employees as “Gig Workers”. Entrenching a process that is already underway with ongoing issues with misclassification of Ontario workers.
As such, we call on all MPPs in Ontario to:
- Reject the recommendations of the report of the Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) that would enshrine second-class status for gig workers. Halt any plans to bring in regressive legislation that harms all workers; Apply employment standards universally and eliminate exceptions and special categories that restrict worker rights;
- Address the misclassification of workers as independent contractors and reversing the legal onus so employers must prove a worker is not an employee and is truly an independent contractor; and
- Ensure all workers have the right to organize into a union and making that right meaningful by addressing barriers to organizing.
We ask that all community members, especially members of the labour community contact their MPPs immediately. For further information and support with arranging meetings with local MPPs, contact Gagandeep at [email protected].
Please also, Sign onto and share the Gig Worker Bill of Rights: https://ofl.ca/action/gig-workers/ and you can also support Gig Workers during Order-In-Days.
More details: https://www.gigworkersunited.ca/order-in-days.html