On November 6, 2014, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, passed third reading with all party support in the Ontario legislature. The new act supports Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and is designed to further increase protections for vulnerable workers. The changes include an increase in Ontario’s minimum wage-from $10.25 to $11 per hour. The act will help workers by:
- Tying future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario, which will be announced by April of each year and come into effect on October 1
- Ensuring Occupational Health and Safety Act coverage for unpaid co-op students and other unpaid learners, which will give them protection under the act such as the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to refuse unsafe work
- Eliminating the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages through Ministry of Labour orders to pay, and increasing the period of recovery to two years
- Expanding employment protections to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or foreign temporary employee program
- Holding temporary help agencies and their employer clients accountable for certain employment standards violations, such as failure to pay regular wages, overtime pay and public holiday entitlements
Protecting vulnerable workers and making the minimum wage fair is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario.