The Ontario government is set to introduce what it says is first-of-its-kind legislation that would extend the province’s minimum wage to gig workers.
The Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act is aimed at adding protection for app-based workers like Uber and Lyft drivers, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton says.
“It’s important that we have a foundational set of 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 share of the economic pie.”
The proposed legislation comes just three months ahead of the Ontario election in June and would give workers a $15 minimum wage, allowing them to keep their tips on top of that base pay.
The legislation only applies to active hours however, which means the driver must be making a delivery or transporting a passenger to earn the minimum hourly wage. If they are waiting for their next trip, the minimum wage does not apply.
Workers would be required to receive written information on the following:
- How pay is calculated.
- Factors used to determined whether they are offered assignments.
- Performance rating system and consequences of poor ratings.
- How and when tips are collected by the operator.
“We continue to hear time and time again that some of these workers are making three or four dollars an hour,” McNaughton said. “There was one worker that made $1,500 dollars one week and the next week, for the same hours, made $500.”
McNaughton says he is confident other provinces will follow Ontario’s lead.
Move follows slew of recommendations from committee
The forthcoming announcement comes after Ford’s government increased minimum wage to $15 an hour in January, a move that excluded gig workers.
In October 2021, many gig workers put pressure on the province to grant them basic workers’ rights by classifying them as employees.
Though the new act does not address employee status, the government has made a series of changes to improve workers’ rights, many of which were recommended by an expert committee, tasked by the province late last year with addressing labour disruptions from the pandemic.
The Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee prompted the province to start developing a “portable benefits” system for workers who don’t have health, dental or vision coverage, with the package intended to move with the individuals if they change jobs.
The expert group also recommended that the government force greater transparency in gig work contracts and create a “dependent contractor” category for app-based gig workers that would guarantee employment rights like severance pay.
McNaughton says changes like these are crucial if the province hopes to keep up with the way technology app-based jobs have changed how people work.
“We want to lift up those workers across the province,” he said.