In June 2017, the Ontario government proposed changes to Ontario employment and labour laws. The government introduced Bill 148 (2017), An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995.
OCASI welcomes Bill 148 and its potential to strengthen existing protections for immigrant, refugee and migrant workers as well as all other Ontario workers who are disadvantaged and excluded from basic protections.
Immigrants and refugees as well as racialized and women workers are over-representated iin low-paid, precarious employment. They are far more likely to work in low-paying jobs with fewer guarantees of paid leave, an unpredictable work schedule, and with less likelihood of union membership. They are over-represented in minimum wage work, and often are paid even less.
Immigrant, refugee and migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation by employers, employment agencies and recruiters. They often face difficulty in knowing their rights are workers, understanding how they may be accessed and fear of reprisal (including the real possibility for migrant workers of being fired and facing deportation). Racialized workers are at greater disadvantage, having to consistently face systemic racism in hiring and retention, as well as accessing even the minimum rights granted under the Employment Standards Act. The intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, immigration status as well as factors such language and literacy barriers, all combine to further marginalize workers and make them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by employers, temporary help agencies and recruiters.
OCASI has made several recommendations to strengthen Bill 148 to increase protections for immigrant, refugee and migrant workers.