Gig economy the next target for Ontario labor law changes – .

Gig economy the next target for Ontario labor law changes – .

An Uber driver is seen after the company launched the service in Vancouver on Friday, January 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl DyckDARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press

Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said his government would act within weeks to help the many independent “concert workers” who deliver food or drive passengers from place to place. – but will not say whether they will benefit from the same rights and protections accorded to employees.

“We will be moving in the coming weeks,” McNaughton said in an interview Monday with The Globe and Mail. “Everything we do will mean bigger paycheques, more workplace protections, more opportunities for workers across the province. “

But he did not detail his plan, even though the province’s NDP opposition called for changes that would allow everyone from Uber and Lyft drivers to cleaners and home helpers, all now classified as contractors. self-employed, to be considered as full employees. and be entitled to minimum wage and vacation pay.

On Monday, NDP MP Peggy Sattler, at an event alongside unions and pay-per-view worker groups, said she was introducing a bill that would implement a simple legal test – now law in California and many states in the United States but nowhere in Canada yet – to determine if workers are freelancers or employees. The bill would also require employers to prove that their workers should be considered independent contractors.

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This reverse onus rule was introduced by the previous Ontario Liberal government – in labor legislation, the current Progressive Conservative government removed just months after Premier Doug Ford was elected in 2018.

Mr McNaughton tabled his own new bill on Monday with a list of other labor law changes unveiled over the past week, including a ban on non-compete clauses, a crackdown on operating temp agencies and new rules requiring companies to authorize truckers and delivery. workers to use their toilets.

But pressure grew on the government to act on the pay-as-you-go issue as tens of thousands of people ended up relying on app-based dispatch services to get jobs. which, according to critics, often falls short of minimum wage and offers no benefits. .

Over the summer, McNaughton convened a panel on the future of the odd-job economy that has consulted with unions and industry and is due to deliver a final report shortly.

Ms Sattler and other critics pointed out that the committee did not have a worker or union member, calling the process rushed. She also denounced a proposal by US ride-sharing giant Uber to institute an app-based “flexible benefits fund” for workers. She said this would create a new “subcategory of workers with lesser rights” and said she believed Mr Ford intended to be Uber’s “willing partner”.

Mr McNaughton said he had “made a decision to go in a different direction” from Uber’s proposal, but would not reveal his own plan.

He said the changes he has made so far show he is serious about workers, especially those left stranded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics point out that Mr Ford canceled a minimum wage hike and dragged his feet to secure paid sick days during the pandemic.

Brice Sopher, a bicycle courier for Uber Eats who is vice president of the Gig Workers United labor group, said his salary was cut by 50% during the pandemic, leaving him dependent on tips and sometimes earning less than $ 12 a hourly – well below the provincial minimum wage of $ 14.35 per hour.

Mr Sopher said his group supported the NDP proposal. He said he testified before the Ontario panel on the matter and met with Mr. McNaughton. But he said he didn’t believe the current government was going to make any significant changes.

“The impression I get from this government is that there are elections coming up – they have a horrible record with COVID, and now they have a strategy to try and make it look like they’re on the side of the working class people in this province, ”he said.

The misclassification of workers as independent contractors is at the heart of a class action lawsuit launched by a Toronto law firm on behalf of Uber drivers. In several decisions around the world, courts have ruled that concert workers are employees or deserve similar rights.

With a report by Laura Stone

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