Two weeks of public hearings around the province by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs considering Bill 148 , the”Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017″, wrapped up last Friday. While welcoming its measures to improve working conditions for the vulnerable, injured workers stressed the need for urgent action by the government to ensure they are not negatively affected by the much-needed minimum wage increases because of the WSIB’s deeming practices. We know our friends and allies picked up on the issue and supported injured workers because Standing Committee members said they heard the message in almost every city they visited “that there need to be some changes made to the WSIB legislation as well, to make sure that injured workers who may already be living in poverty aren’t more impoverished by the amendments… “. (Clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill by the Standing Committee is scheduled for Aug. 21-25).
Oral presentations, including as those by Derek MacLeod, Unifor Ontario Workers with disAbilities Committee (Jul. 12), Teresa Williams, Northumberland Community Legal Centre (Jul. 13), Willy Noiles, ONIWG & Bruce Allen, Niagara Workers’ Activist Group (Jul. 19) and Karl Crevar (Hamilton Injured Workers’ Group (Jul. 20) highlighted the need to protect injured workers from the unintended consequences of higher minimum wages. Also addressed: the vulnerability of temporary agency injured workers.
Among written submissions forwarded to the Standing Committee on the impact of Bill 148 on injured workers were those by Injured Workers’ Consultants, Unifor and the Workers’ Health & Safety Legal Clinic,
But we’ve still heard nothing from the WSIB or the Ministry of Labour about how they’ll protect injured workers, so we need to keep the pressure on. More info to come soon…
- Ontario. Legislative Assembly. Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Hansard Transcripts (Bill 148)
- Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic. 2017 Jul. 21. Submission to the Standing Committee re: Bill 148 “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017”. Toronto: IWC
- Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups. 2017 June 14. Letter to the Minister of Labour: Avoiding Disaster – Can You Prevent the Minimum Wage Increase Hurting Injured Workers? St Catharines: ONIWG
- Backgrounder: Minimum Wage and “Deeming” (2017 Jun.)