OFL: ‘Future of Work’ report opens door to gutting employment standards for all Ontario workers

TORONTO, Dec. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The recommendations outlined in the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) report, released today, is an attack on the minimal employment standards of all Ontario workers and, if adopted, would threaten all labour standards in the rest of Canada, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

“The OWRAC report recommendations do not improve rights for gig workers,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. Creating a new sub-category of worker is a carve-out of full employment rights for gig workers, according to the OFL. The OFL has advocated for full employment rights with no carve-outs from minimum wage, sick leave, vacation pay, and other minimum employment standards. “Gig workers are workers—full stop. They deserve nothing less than the full and equal rights and protections afforded to all workers under the Employment Standards Act.

The OFL raised alarm bells about the OWRAC’s rushed and flawed consultation process after the Committee was struck this summer. The Committee had no representation from labour organizations or workers and there were no hearings held as part of the consultation process. The result of this flawed process is recommendations that represent carve-outs from workers’ rights, according to the OFL.

The report recommendation on creating a new sub-category is among a number of recommendations that fall short for gig workers. “These recommendations are a gift to Uber and other corporations who care more about profit than protecting vulnerable workers, and it sounds a lot like what O’Toole and the Conservative Party of Canada campaigned on in the last election,” said Coates. “Portable benefits, like EI and CPP, already exist and gig workers need the same access to them as everyone else. Not some subpar privatized health scheme.” The OFL has outlined the minimum rights that gig workers deserve in the Gig Workers’ Bill of Rights created in collaboration with Gig Workers United and Uber Drivers United.

In addition to falling short on rights and protections for gig workers, the report makes troubling recommendations that would make it easier for employers to classify so-called ‘highly-skilled workers’ as independent contractors, and deny them basic employment rights. “Creating a sub-category of worker opens up the possibility of creating further sub-categories. This could result in pressure to move other workers into sub-categories,” said Coates. “The result is a full-frontal attack on the Employment Standards Act.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:
Melissa Palermo
Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour
mpalermo@ofl.ca l 416-894-3456