OFL responds to portable benefits proposal: “Gig workers deserve full and equal employment rights, the time for universal dental care and pharmacare is now”

TORONTO, Feb. 03, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today’s announcement by Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton about the government’s proposed portable benefit scheme falls far short of what Ontario workers need, and leaves too many questions unanswered, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

“We are concerned that the introduction of this scheme will mean the further misclassification of gig workers as ‘self-employed,’ rather than employees who deserve the full and equal rights afforded to all workers,” said Patty Coates, OFL President. “Without offering full and equal rights to gig workers this proposal is really about further excluding them from minimum employment standards and access to existing statutory benefits.”

Gig workers have outlined the actions that are urgently needed to ensure fairness and non-discriminatory treatment in the Gig Workers’ Bill of Rights. One of those actions is “full and equal access to regulated benefits programs like Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and injury compensation (WSIB).”

Any mention of pensions, or any retirement benefits for gig workers, was also glaringly absent from today’s announcement.

Upon the release of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee’s report in December, Coates raised concerns about a subpar privatized health scheme. “As I’ve said before, portable benefits like EI and CPP already exist and gig workers need the same access to them as everyone else,” added Coates. “Where access to health care is falling short it should be improved to ensure all workers have the support they need. The answer to that challenge is the provision of universal dental care and pharmacare for every Ontarian, including retirees.”

According to McNaughton’s announcement, the advisory panel to create this proposed scheme will not report until July – one month after the provincial election is set to take place. This timeline is also concerning to workers.

“Ford’s Conservative government has demonstrated they are not serious about giving precarious, misclassified workers their long overdue rights,” said Coates. “This is not only a half-baked scheme, but also a cheap election ploy.”

The OFL will continue to urge the government to extend full and equal rights to gig workers by implementing the Gig Workers’ Bill of Rights.

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