The New Democrats attempted to make several amendments to Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) to protect temporary workers, to end exemptions to the minimum wage and to increase paid vacation to three weeks.
The NDP would like to see stronger protections than the ones which were passed by the Ontario Liberals. During the recent debate around the minimum wage increase and other changes to the Employment Standards Act, the NDP made several proposals:
- Three weeks paid vacation after the first year of employment – up from the current two
- Ending exemptions that allow some worker categories to be paid less than the minimum wage
- Five paid sick or emergency days for all workers
- Ten days paid leave for survivors of domestic violence to access medical care, find safe housing or participate in legal proceedings
- Making it harder for employers to label long-time workers “contractors” instead of employees
- Requiring temp workers to become permanent employees after 90 days of work
- Requiring employers of temp workers to bear the same responsibilities as employers of all workers when a worker is injured or killed on the job
- Protecting injured workers’ benefits from unfair claw backs caused by deeming them eligible for jobs they never held
One of the major concerns relating to the minimum wage increase was that students and liquor servers would continue to not be guaranteed the same wage as everyone else. This two level system is considered inherently unfair by the NDP.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said: “Ending exemptions that allow some workers to be paid less than minimum wage is the right thing to do.”
Horwath was also adamant on ensuring that those who are sick or survivors of domestic violence are able to get time off: “Giving everyone paid sick and personal emergency leave days, and enhancing the number of vacation days so they stay healthier – physically and mentally – is right for everyone in Ontario. And giving survivors of domestic violence the time they need to get medical care or find a safe place to live is critical.” The NDP was successful in bringing in paid leave to survivors of domestic violence into the legislation.
Bill 148 was passed on November 22nd and has brought changes to the minimum wage, critical illness leave, parental leave, family medical leave, and much more.