Ontario plans to introduce ‘historic’ new legislation to give gig workers a $15 minimum wage
The Ontario government will introduce what it says is the first of its kind legislation that would extend the province’s minimum wage to gig workers.
The Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act aims to increase protections for app-based workers like Uber and Lyft drivers, says Labor Secretary Monte McNaughton.
“It’s important that we have basic rights for these workers,” McNaughton said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday, calling the legislation “historic”.
“I want workers to get a bigger slice of the economic pie.”
The proposed law comes just three months ahead of Ontario’s June election and would give workers a $15 minimum wage, allowing them to keep their tips on top of that base wage. It would also ensure that workplace disputes in Ontario are resolved to avoid unnecessary travel expenses.
Workers would also need to be given written information on how their wages and tips are calculated.
“We keep hearing that some of these workers make three or four dollars an hour,” he said. “There was a worker who made $1,500 one week and $500 the next week for the same hours.”
McNaughton says he’s confident other provinces in Ontario will follow suit. He and Premier Doug Ford will unveil further details of the legislation at a press conference later Monday morning. You can see that live in this story.
Move follows a set of recommendations from the committee
The forthcoming announcement comes after Ford’s government raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour in January, a move that excludes gig workers.
In October 2021, many gig workers pressured the province to grant them basic labor rights by classifying them as employees.
Since then, the government has made a series of changes to improve workers’ rights, many of which were recommended by an expert panel tasked by the province late last year to deal with work stoppages due to the pandemic.
The Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee called on the province to begin developing a “portable benefits system” for workers who don’t have health, dental or vision insurance, with the package moving with people if they change jobs.
The expert group also recommended that the government enforce more transparency on gig labor contracts and create a “dependent contractor” category for app-based gig workers that would guarantee workers’ rights such as severance pay.
According to McNaughton, such changes are crucial if the province is to keep up with the way technology-based jobs have transformed the way people work.
“We want to uplift these workers across the province,” he said.