Monday, October 18, 2021

Temporary worker agencies face scrutiny

The province is cracking down on agencies that manage temporary workers.

Apparently workers are owed about $3.3 million because they were paid less than minimum wage or otherwise cheated, the province says.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton has introduced legislation to address the abuses which the government said includes farm employers.

Both the agencies and employers who hire their temporary workers will be required to obtain a licence.

Last year during the furore over temporary farm workers, it emerged that some employers and agencies in the Windsor-Leamington area were exploiting foreigners.

"From day one, my ministry has worked to ensure any employer who abuses the rights of their workers – no matter their passport – will quickly find our officers at their front door,” said McNaughton. 

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message to anyone who still thinks they can break the rules that time is up. This legislation would, if passed, be the toughest of its kind in Canada – ensuring every worker in Ontario has unprecedented protection today and, in the years to come.”

Inspections by ministry officers have shown that there are multiple temporary help agencies in Ontario that are illegally paying people below the minimum wage and denying other basic employment rights. 

In doing so, they gain an unfair competitive advantage over law-abiding agencies by undercutting rates, the government said.