Ontario set to introduce $15 minimum wage for app-based gig workers

The Ontario government is set to introduce new legislation on Monday that will give app-based gig workers “fundamental rights,” including a $15 minimum wage and transparency about their tips.

The “Digital Platforms Workers Rights Act” will guarantee a regular minimum wage for those employed by app-based services, such as ride-sharing drivers and couriers, which they will receive in addition to their tips. It also requires workers to receive a recurring pay period and payday while prohibiting tips from being withheld by platform operators.

“We keep hearing stories that, you know, one week a construction worker will make $1,400 and the next week he will make $500, and he doesn’t know why,” said the Minister of Labor of Ontario, Monte McNaughton, at CTV News Toronto.

“So we’re going to put transparency in place, so that workers know exactly how the algorithm works and how they’re going to be paid.”

McNaughton said he’s heard of some workers making less than $5 an hour and he called it “unacceptable.”

“Every worker in the province deserves to earn at least minimum wage, and these companies have a responsibility – and they will be required by law – to make it clear to workers on digital platforms how and when they will be paid. ”

The law also provides the right to resolve labor disputes in Ontario. According to McNaughton, many employees are forced to travel outside of Canada to resolve a workplace dispute, which is not always affordable.

“It is clearly unacceptable that these injustices are happening in Ontario, and in Canada quite frankly,” he said. “No gig worker should earn less than minimum wage. No construction worker should be fired without notice or explanation. And no one, period, should have to travel outside of Canada to resolve a workplace dispute. This is why we act. »

The Progressive Conservative government raised Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in January, opting to also include liquor servers who previously earned $12.55 an hour.

Gig workers were not included in this legislationnm

McNaughton acknowledged that the government “often lags behind economic changes,” adding that the Progressive Conservatives have moved quickly to act on recommendations made by the Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. Ontario.

The committee suggested that a new category of employees be created to cover workers employed by platform-based services, allowing them access to basic rights such as a minimum wage, benefits and compensation. departure.

Although new legislation proposed on Monday addresses the issue of a constant minimum wage as well as labor transparency issues, it does not mention a portable benefits package, which the Progressive Conservative government has said it could come after the provincial meeting in June election.

McNaughton previously told CTV News Toronto that an advisory committee would be appointed in March and final recommendations would be made in July.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford initially scrapped a $15 minimum wage in 2018 after taking office, arguing it would cost businesses too much. When he announced that the minimum wage would increase by $1 in November 2021, the Prime Minister cited the pandemic as the main reason the wage freeze would end.

“Everyone has faced a challenge over the past 20 months,” he said at the time. “Things were very different in 2018.”

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