Ontario moves to boost equal-pay protections for temp agency workers

November 17, 2017
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New measures intended to protect vulnerable temp agency, casual, and part-time workers from pay discrimination got a boost Thursday, after the province moved to strengthen their provisions and make it harder for employers to violate the spirit of the proposed law.

Bill 148, which will update the province's employment standards and is expected to come into force by the end of the year, was amended Thursday to address widespread concern among workers' rights advocates that new equal-pay policies would not fulfill their stated purpose: to guarantee parity for workers doing the same job, regardless of employment status.

Critics slammed the previous wording of the bill, which stipulated that temporary employment agency workers doing "substantially the same" work as permanent counterparts must be paid the same rate. Advocates said that language was too vague, and would allow employers to fudge job descriptions to maintain discriminatory wages.

Torstar News Service has written extensively on abuse faced by temp agency workers on the job. Thursday's changes confirmed the application of the proposed equal-pay measures will be broad, and clarified that temp agency, casual, and part-time workers don’t need to perform identical work to their permanent counterparts in order to benefit from equal-pay provisions.

"Jobs do not have to be identical in every respect, nor do they have to be interchangeable for the standard to apply," said Liberal MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence Mike Colle.

"This is the test that will continue to apply going forward and we believe this is the right direction in promoting fairness in pay in Ontario."

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