Unfinished business – protecting temporary agency workers

In today’s labour market and cost-cutting climate where precarious employment is rapidly becoming the norm, temporary workers are amongst the most vulnerable. In British Columbia, according to the just-released report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), temporary employment accounted for 40% of post-recession job creation (2009–2013). In Ontario temporary agency work has risen significantly, with over 1,000 temporary help agencies employing approx. 735, 000 employees across the province (Ministry of Labour, 2012).

This growing phenomenon calls for policy changes to improve economic security, labour standards and occupational health & safety. Researcher Dr Ellen MacEachen (Institute for Work & Health) explains here why these temporary agency workers are falling through the cracks, and why it is important to clarify employer responsibilities.

Under current Ontario law, temporary agencies are responsible to the WSIB for paying premiums and for the accident costs for employees that they hire even though the workers are injured working for other companies where they are placed.

Bill 146 (Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014) was among the legislation that died when Ontario’s Assembly dissolved Parliament in May to hold new elections, The bill included changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act that would shift the workplace injury costs of the resulting compensation claim from the temporary help agency to the client employer (with potential impact for experience rating…). The amendment also placed reporting obligations on this employer as well as the agency.

It is to be hoped the Wynne government will reintroduce and pass this legislation speedily.

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