New legislation in Ontario would bring a host of changes for staffing buyers and staffing firms — including equal pay for temps, one week notice when an assignment ends, greater access to temps for unions and a higher minimum wage.

However, the “Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act 2017” is already raising concerns.

The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services has called for an economic impact analysis by a third party to ensure the province isn’t risking jobs, raising consumers’ costs or causing economic hardship because of over-regulation.

“Government cannot regulate prosperity. To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth,” Mary McIninch, executive director of government relations at ACSESS, said in a statement. “That is why we are urging the government to take time this summer to have an independent third party conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis on the proposed reforms to consider the unintended consequences to employers.”

According to an announcement from the Ministry of Labour last week, the act would:

  • Mandate equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as traditional employees of the agencies’ client companies, and equal pay for part-time, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as traditional employees.
  • Require staffing firms to provide temporary help workers with at least one week’s notice when an assignment scheduled to last longer than three months will be terminated early, or to provide a week of work or pay if sufficient notice is not given.
  • Raise Ontario’s general minimum wage to C$14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018, and then to C$15 on Jan. 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.
  • Establish card-based union certification for the temporary help agency industry.
  • Expand personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least 10 days, including two paid days, per year for all workers.
  • Bring Ontario’s vacation time into line with the Canadian national average by ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer.
  • Require employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is canceled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.

For more, on the potential impact of the legislation on employers, see this report by employment law firm Littler Mendelson.

Backers of the law aim to improve the lot of workers.

“Our government is making changes to Ontario’s labor laws to better support people who work in temporary help, part-time, minimum wage and contract jobs,” Harinder Malhi, member of the provincial parliament representing Brampton-Springdale, said in a statement. “Changes like expanded personal emergency leave and increased vacation entitlements will ensure Ontario workers are treated fairly on the job.”

Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn cited the need for fairness.

“These changes will ensure every hard-working Ontarian has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity,” Flynn said. “Fairness and decency must continue to be the defining values of our workplaces.”

However, the United Steelworkers Union argued that while the increase in minimum wage is good, the legislation does not go far enough in providing employees the means to form unions and bargain for improvements in the workplace.