Province Cracking Down on Workers' Rights in Halton and Beyond

The minimum wage hike has caused something of an uproar among employers and employees in its mere two weeks in effect. While minimum wage employees are seeing more money on their paychecks, employers don’t seem to be handling it very well.

Some are slashing benefits, some have been accused of bullying their workers, and some are just downright complaining since minimum wage has been hiked from $11.60 to $14.00 per hour.

Now, in wake of the minimum wage hike, Ontario is making some serious changes to penalize employers who don’t comply with enhanced worker rights.

Here is what the province is doing in response to the uproar:

  • Hiring up to 175 additional employment standards officers to enforce employment standards
  • Launching a program to educate both businesses and employees about their rights and obligations under Ontario’s employment standards laws
  • Increasing penalties issued by employment standards officers to non-compliant employers from $250, $500 and $1,000 to $350, $700 and $1,500, respectively, for the first, second and third (or subsequent) contravention of the Employment Standards Act within a three-year period

Further, the province says it is “introducing new ways” to ensure enforcement of employers who refuse to pay their employees.

Those new measures include the ability to issue warrants and register liens on employers’ personal property.

For the first time ever, the Ministry of Labour can, by law, publish the names of employers who break the rules, including a date and description of the contravention and the penalty.

We want to ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario's prosperity,” said minister of labour Kevin Flynn in a recent statement.

Over the past 30 years, part-time work has grown to represent nearly 20 per cent of total employment, according to the province, and more than 30 per cent of Ontario workers were in precarious work in 2014.

It’s clear that workers need more than $11.60 to live, so hopefully, more employers will take on a human rights perspective and learn to adjust to the changes.

And if not, it’s clear that there will now be consequences.

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