On November 22, 2017, Bill 148 passed third reading, meaning all that remains is for the Act to come into force once it receives royal assent.
The minimum wage changes of this bill are bringing a lot of buzz, and rightly so. The Act increases the minimum wage to $14 after January 1, 2018 and increases the minimum wage to $15 no later than October 2019. This represents an increase of about 30% from the current minimum wage of $11.60.
After October, 2019, the wage will be indexed to annual inflation rates.
It’s not just minimum wage workers who will see increases to their pay. Many union members will get a direct pay raise, and still others may be able to leverage the 30% figure in their own negotiations for wage increases.
Further benefits to unions include the Bill’s extension of card-check certification to precarious sectors, especially building services and temp agencies. Home care will also have card-check.
The Bill also formalizes equal-pay language that requires temp agencies to ensure their workers receive the same hourly wages as full-time workers for doing the same, or substantially similar, work (note, however, that the equal pay language has loopholes and will be the subject of future discussion).
Another positive of the Bill is that it mandates improved access to employee lists for union drives, and legislates one week more of paid vacation after five years of employment.
The next step will be to ensure Bill 148 is implemented well. The Bill has added new language to both the Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. To ensure workers receive the full benefit of the Bill’s changes, it will be vital to push for sensible interpretations of the new provisions and to prevent any efforts by employers to water-down or misinterpret the provisions. But that comes later and, for now, it’s important to celebrate this victory for Ontario’s workers.