Migrant worker fired for speaking to journalists calls for full immigration status for all

Toronto, July 30, 2020 — Migrant farmworker, Luis Gabriel Flores Flores, who was fired for speaking to journalists after testing positive for COVID-19, calls on the Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino today to demand immigration status for all. 

Reading from a letter he had written, Mr Flores said, “What happened to me is what happens to migrants when we try to defend their rights. We have been subjected to a system of temporary immigration where if we stand up for ourselves, we are deported. Today, I am here to say to you that I am not afraid. That I deserve dignity. That all of us deserve dignity. That is why we need permanent resident status now, so workers can have the power to protect ourselves. Our health, our well-being, our families, and our lives depend on it.” See Mr Flores’ full letter to the Minister of Immigration here

Mr Flores first came to Canada in 2014, and is a father of 2 children from Mexico. In 2020, he came to work at Scotlynn Farms. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined. During that time he spoke to journalists about the poor living conditions and mistreatment at Scotlynn Farms. On June 20th, Juan López Chaparro, who also worked at Scotlynn farm and lived with Mr Flores, died from COVID-19. The following day, Mr Flores was fired by Mr Robert Biddle Jr., founder of Scotlynn Farms.

“For years, we have called on the federal government to stop tipping the scales against migrant workers, to stop giving employers complete control over workers’ lives. All migrants must have the power to protect themselves, to speak up, to leave abusive and dangerous situations, and that means full immigration status for all is essential,” says Syed Hussan, Executive Director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “The federal government needs to send a signal to migrant and undocumented people across the country today that what happened to Mr Flores will not be tolerated, and that migrants who speak out will be protected.”

Over 1,100 migrant farmworkers in Ontario have been infected with COVID-19 because of their housing and working conditions. One in 23 people (over 1.6 million people) in Canada are migrants, refugees, or undocumented. They are unable to access essential services, assert basic rights or access emergency support. Employer reprisals against them are common.

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for permanent resident status for all and other protections for migrants: https://migrantrights.ca/covid19/. A visual petition of over 200 migrant workers calling for status was recently posted on Prime Minister Trudeau’s office: https://twitter.com/MWACCanada/status/1284122949549785093

Timeline of Reprisals Against Mr Flores

  • Mr Flores came to Canada on April 18, 2020, and was in quarantine for two weeks at a hotel. 
  • He started work at Scotlynn Farms in Norfolk, Ontario, where housing and working conditions were very poor. It was impossible for workers to physically distance, workers had no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and they were not allowed to rest. 
  • A couple of weeks later several of Mr Flores’s colleagues started showing COVID-19 symptoms. Mr Flores and others repeatedly requested medical attention for them. 
  • They were told by supervisors that information had been shared with management but no medical attention was provided and no testing was done. 
  • Eventually workers got so sick, that one of Mr Flores’s colleagues called a contact off the farm to send an ambulance. 
  • As a result, testing finally occurred at the end of May and nearly 200 workers at the farm tested positive, including Mr Flores. 
  • While in quarantine, Mr Flores shared the story of labour exploitation and sub-standard housing with Globe & Mail on June 10, 2020 and Toronto Star on June 13, 2020 in tandem with a report released by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). He was one of several workers who spoke out. The press conference of the report received coverage on CTV, Global, CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and many other outlets. 
  • At 11pm on June 20, 2020, Mr Flores and other farmworkers were informed that his roommate Mr Juan Lopez Chaparro had died of COVID-19. 
  • Mr Flores spoke up at that time to supervisors, demanding an explanation from the employer and that the farm take responsibility for what happened. 
  • At 11:00 a.m. on June 21, 2020, Mr. Robert Biddle Jr., founder of Scotlynn Farms, arrived at Mr. Flores’ bunkhouse apartment unit. Mr Biddle showed Mr Flores an image of a video from a press conference by MWAC which featured Mr Flores’ colleague. He told Mr Flores that he would be sent back to Mexico first thing the next morning. Mr Flores insisted that he was not the person in the video. See Mr Biddle’s photo here
  • Mr Biddle left and a foreman reiterated the employer’s decision, and informed Mr Flores that the employer was looking for three other workers they suspected of speaking to the press. 
  • Mr Flores left the farm, and has been housed by a supporter in coordination with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
  • On July 30, 2020, Mr Flores filed an anti-reprisals claim to the Ontario Ministry of Labour for $40,401.35 (the maximum possible under existing laws), and visited the office of Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to call for full and permanent immigration status for all.
  • Mr Flores remains in Canada, on a tied work permit that only allows him to work for Scotlynn, which is set to expire on November 30th. He has no permanent housing, or permanent income and is concerned about how he will support his family back home. 

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change416-453-3632, hussan@migrantworkersalliance.org

Donate to Support Our Work

Donate to Support Our Work

Job Posting: Migrant Student-Worker Organizer

CONTRACT POSITION POSTING
1 year contract, flexible part-time (approximately 2 days/week)
Starting Monthly stipend: $1,200-$1,300 (commensurate with experience)
With a possibility of renewal and increase in time / stipend.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC)  is excited to bring to our team an organizer to build power with low-waged and racialized migrant International Students in low-waged work in the GTA (Migrant Student-Workers). The Migrant Student Worker Organizer will be responsible for outreach, follow up, recruitment and retention of International Students to support Migrant Student Worker led organizing.

MWAC supports the self organization of migrants and refugees to build collective power. We believe in solidarity and accompaniment, not charity. This position will include substantial skills development and support.

Download full posting here.

Policy Submissions: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

Policy Submissions: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

Migrant workers and their support organizations across Canada call on the Federal Government to ensure permanent resident status upon arrival for all migrant workers. The current system of temporary, employer specific work permits leaves labour and human rights beyond the reach of migrant workers in Canada. As an interim step to permanent resident status, we are calling on the Federal Government to create open work permits for all workers.

The Federal Government, however, has begun discussions about creating an open work permit program for workers facing abuse only. Here are submissions on how to make this program effective and responsive.

Click to download: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

 

Policy Brief: Submission from CMWRC & MWAC to HUMA

Policy Brief: Submission from CMWRC & MWAC to HUMA

Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

PLEASE DOWNLOAD HERE

These submissions are being jointly made by Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) and the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). CMWRC is the representative body of migrant workers in the country. Our members include Cooper Institute in Prince Edward Island, Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization (CCESO), Migrant Worker Solidarity Network in Manitoba, Migrante Canada, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change in Ontario, Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture in Okanagan Valley, Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec, Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta, Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights in Vancouver and West Coast Domestic Workers Association in Vancouver.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Fuerza Puwersa, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Legal Assistance of Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers, Workers’ Action Centre and Workers United.

These recommendations have been endorsed by AIDS Committee of Durham Region, Jesuit Refugee Service, Retail Action Network BC, Refugees Welcome Fredericton, SAME Brock Chapter, MigrantWorkersRights Canada, BC Employment Standards Coalition, Migrante BC, PINAY Quebec, People’s Health Movement Canada/Mouvement populaire pour la santé au Canada, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Migrant Worker Health Project (International Migration Research Centre), Gabriella Ontario, AAFQ (association des aides familiales du Québec/Caregivers Association of Quebec) and Inter Pares.

Status on Landing!

A unified cross-Canada framework for action on migrant workers

Status on Landing means that:

  • People in low-waged occupations currently coming into Canada in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Caregiver Program, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and other programs with work authorization permits will be able to come to Canada as permanent residents, if they so choose, including being able to sponsor their families.

Calling for Status on Arrival is pragmatic, possible and necessary. Here is why:

(1) Status on Arrival is what migrant workers want.

Since at least 1968, migrant worker rights groups organizing with domestic workers, caregivers, seasonal agricultural workers, and temporary foreign workers (then the Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program) have unified around a single demand, full immigration status on landing for migrant workers.

Today, members of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition, Migrante Canada, the Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta, groupings in British Columbia and Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec are all unified on this demand.

(2)  Immigration Status on Arrival ensures rights for all workers.

We know that most low-waged workers are tied to a single employer and bad bosses are mistreating migrant workers. This mistreatment includes paying workers lower wages than workers with Canadian citizenship. Migrant workers are either directly excluded from labour protections, or labour laws are not responsive to their vulnerability to abuse and deportation. Access to healthcare, post-secondary education, pensions, employment insurance and other social entitlements is only available to those with permanent status.

Ensuring permanent residency status on arrival removes the differential treatment of migrant workers, and thus removes the possibility of overall decrease in wages and working conditions in any industry. It ensures equal access to healthcare and social protections for migrant workers, and because of their preventative nature, ensures better public health for all residents, and saves money to the public purse in the long run.

(3)  Status on Arrival is a consistent policy direction.

Canadian federal immigration policy divides workers coming in to the country in to two categories: those that arrive with permanent immigration status, and those that don’t. Those who don’t are temporary foreign workers who are in large part racialized and low-waged. Status on landing is a policy position that refuses to separate racialized and low-waged workers from other kinds of immigrants coming in to the country. It creates a unified framework that can more easily be operationalized in the long-term.

But…

Is it winnable?

Yes. Status on landing already exists for high-waged workers immigrating to Canada; it is the simplest policy and political solution. We also know that there are at least 25 million migrant workers around the world, and every one of the 16 richest countries in the world (OECD) has foreign worker programs. It is going to be hard to turn the tide towards permanent status and away from temporary work. We need short-term goals as we work towards status on arrival. These goals can include ensuring that migrant workers:

  • are not tied to one employer;
  • have equal access to all social programs, including Employment Insurance, health care, settlement services, social services and workers’ compensation;
  • have a right to a fair appeal process prior to a removal order;
  • have full protections under the provincial employment standards act and regulations currently enjoyed by Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents, including no fee for any work placement. A comprehensive recruiter regulation program is also needed;
  • who have become undocumented have access to a comprehensive national regularization program to regularize their status.

For more detailed provincial and federal reform proposals, please get in touch with us at info@migrantworkersalliance.org.

Why not just call for shutting down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program?

Once status on landing is implemented, the temporary foreign workers program would effectively end. Calling for status on landing is important and different because:

  • Currently there is no other path for low-waged, racialized people to come to Canada. Shutting down the program would mean the mass exclusion of those communities. Not only is it not fair, it makes no economic sense. The Parliamentary Budget officer recently showed that the number of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with the skills to work in industries that migrant workers usually do has dropped by 26%.
  • If we call for shutting down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, it would be almost impossible to organize with workers who are already in the program, and who have friends and family members planning to come in through it.
  • It’s also a question of what happens first. We would need to call for permanent programs, and only when they are implemented, would we be able to call for closure of the temporary programs. Status on landing moves it from a two-step ask, to a simpler one-step demand.

Does this mean anyone will be able to come to Canada?

The immigration system has its internal controls, including overarching laws, regulations and case law. Ensuring status on landing won’t change that. These immigrants would face the same scrutiny as immigrants’ parents being sponsored, or someone with a economics degree.

High-wage workers, even if they are coming under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program right now, have the option of applying to come in permanently through one of the Express Entry pathways. Status on landing won’t give high-waged workers an added advantage; it will give low-waged, racialized, workers, many of them women, access to dignity and stability.

Support your neighbours: Migrant Workers and Ontario Labour Laws

Support your neighbours: Migrant Workers and Ontario Labour Laws

The Ontario government is reviewing labour laws in the province. Over the summer and fall of 2015, the public is invited to make recommendations to improve these laws. It’s important that these changes support all workers, including migrant workers.

This is a critical moment to build awareness about migrant worker concerns. We know that our friends and neighbours in the Temporary Foreign Workers, Seasonal Agricultural Workers and Caregivers Programs have fewer rights and live in greater fear than other Ontarians. Now we need to make sure that everyone else in the province knows it too.

We have created a simple two page flyer that you can distribute at events, get in to the hands of labour allies, and place prominently at your office. You can download it directly here:

 

MWAC Submissions on regulatory proposals to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program compliance framework.

MWAC Submissions on regulatory proposals to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program compliance framework.

The proposed compliance framework may be able to lead to real implementation steps that ensure the principle of equal protections for migrant workers is met. However, three critical changes are needed to ensure that these regulations do not end up doing the opposite:

1. The compliance mechanisms and sanctions must not in any way punish workers for their employers’ abuse. The regulatory mechanism should include open work permits, and access to permanent residency for migrant workers. Failure to do so would make these regulations extremely punitive for migrant workers.

2. There should be no exceptions to workplaces that are being inspected or sanctioned. All migrant worker employers, that is those who are part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, Live-In Caregiver Program and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, should be equally and comprehensively assessed for abuse.

3. These regulations will result in a convergence, and possible confusion between provincial and federal jurisdictions. MOUs on information sharing, and specific protocols to ensure that migrant workers are able to gain lost wages, or have access to other entitlements under provincial jurisdiction, must be developed.

For our full submissions, click HERE.

Fear of Migrant Workers Is Xenophobia

first published on Huffington Post

There has been massive media attention on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) in the last few weeks. Mainstream and social media is full of analysis and solutions. Some critics and commentators insist that the only appropriate way forward is shutting down the low-skilled temporary foreign worker program. They are wrong.

With increased workplace uncertainty, as permanent jobs disappear and the public sector shrinks, many are looking around for culprits to blame. Though migrant workers and the TFWP seems like an easy target, it isn’t.

Its important to analyze the key arguments being made about the TFWP.

1: Migrant workers are pushing Canadians out of jobs and taking jobs from unemployed Canadians.

News outlets and commentators have reported how the total numbers of migrant workers entering the country make up one quarter (some say three quarters) of new jobs created in Canada, thus suggesting that migrant workers are taking jobs from young workers. The news media is full of a few cases where migrant workers are replacing citizen workers. This is missing the forest for the trees.

There were between 76,711 – 230,379 low-skilled migrant workers in Canada at the end of 2012 — making them 0.0042 per cent — 0.013 per cent of the labour force (the large discrepancy between the figures is because 153,668 workers’ occupational classification is not reported on by Immigration Canada). Of these about 35,000 worked in the agriculture sector, while another 19,830 were live-in caregivers.

There are officially 1.35 million unemployed Canadians in the country (real unemployment is likely twice as high). Even if all migrant workers were excluded there would be at least 1.1 million unemployed Canadian citizens left.

Communities with the highest levels of unemployment — like Nunvaut — have relatively few migrant workers. And regions with the lowest rate of unemployment — that is Alberta — has the highest number of migrant workers coming in. There is no generalized replacement of citizen workers by migrant workers.

Add to that its well know that migrant workers are often replacing other migrant workers — like on southwestern Ontario farms where migrant workers have been coming since the mid-1960s.

Secondly, migrant workers are often coming in to jobs that were previously also occupied by new immigrants – these are the low-paying jobs in gas stations, retail and manufacturing that newcomers work in to get a leg-up. It’s the same demographic of people — racialized, young and middle-aged newcomers — who are working these jobs. Except now, they will be deported after a few years rather than build a life here. Immigrants have always formed a critical part of Canada’s workforce — only now they are here temporarily.

There is absolutely no evidence that says that shutting out migrant workers would mean that employers would hire young Canadian citizens. That’s because there is a major disconnect between labour, education and training policy in the country. What is needed is government support for skills training, as well as income security — not migrant worker exclusion.

2. Employers and corporations are using migrant workers to keep wages low

The only reason migrant workers can be paid less, and exploited more is because of two-tiered federal and provincial laws, and legal limitations on collective organizing. In Ontario, for example, provincial law excludes many migrant workers fromminimum wage, occupational health and safety guarnatees, and even the landlord-tenancy act protections based on their occupational classifications.

Shutting down the TFWP would not mean that the employers would immediately raise wages for Canadian workers. Lobbyists for fast-food restaurants like McDonalds, for example, have been advocating against minimum wage increases in Ontario. They might choose to move jobs to other regions in the world, to advocate for moregovernment subsidies and tax cuts , or to pass down increased costs to consumers, or do all of the above.

Many argue that migrant workers cause a downward pressure on wages and work conditions — therefore uplifting and empowering them is the only way to improve conditions for all.

3: Migrant workers are less likely to stand up against abuse

Migrant workers are less likely to stand up to abuse because they have more to lose when speaking out. The real culprit here is the law that ties migrant workers to an employer, and gives employers immense power to deport people at whim. The simple solution to that then is full immigration status on landing which would remove the coercive power employers and recruiters hold. It’s also important to note that despite these limitations, migrant workers have organized, including mass rallies, speaking out against recruitment fees , fighting back against employer abuse and more.

At a time when all the provinces are cutting resources from labour departments responsible for keeping corporations in check, abuse already encompasses citizen workers. It’s not about abolishing the TFWP, it’s about ensuring real labour protections for all.

4: Corporations are breaking the law by hiring temporary foreign workers.

Many have said that the temporary foreign worker program is being used illegally. That the TFWP is supposed to be a short-term labour shortage fix, and employers are making it otherwise. This is a profound misunderstanding of Canadian and global immigration policy.

Since 1978, more people have entered Canada on a temporary basis then on a permanent basis. This is not a new story, and there is no simple solution — like shutting down the TFWP.

Since Harper came in to power in 2006, temporariness has been entrenched throughout the immigration system. It’s not just that there are more temporary migrant workers, now parents, grandparents and spouses also come in temporarily.Refugees and permanent residents face many different ways where their status can be revoked — making them also temporary.

This is the new global face of immigration with most “countries” expanding their guestworker programs, a regime that is being pushed at the United Nations level.

The entire immigration system — not just the temporary foreign worker program — is determined by corporate interests. The new expression of interest system is controlled by employers. Referred to as an “online dating” system, employers cherry pick from immigrant applicants to fast-track who can come here permanently. Only workers from 24 occupations can apply.

Corporations aren’t breaking the intent of the law. Temporary immigration is the law of Canada and the global norm. The solution is not to slam the door shut on migrant workers. Or even, as some progressives insist, to simply expand the permanent immigration system. That would just mean more corporate-driven immigration. Poor and racialized workers (so-called “low-skilled workers”) that make up the TFWP, must be able come to Canada freely with full immigration status on landing, including the ability to reunite with their families. We need to openly contest the factors that force people to move, and create systems of migration that are people, not corporate-driven. We need status for undocumented migrants now.

What lies beneath

Unlike stories of the deaths of migrant workers like Ned Peart,healthcare denial,racist policing, or mass exploitation like in the Presteve Case, it seems to be that its only stories pitting migrants against “Canadians” that get national attention.

The use of incorrect statistics and skewed economic arguments to demand the exclusion of Temporary Foreign Workers by people all along the political spectrumhearkens to a lengthy history of exclusion of immigrants from Canada. While in the past racist headlines read “Immigrants are taking Canadian jobs,” now they insist “Foreign workers are taking Canadian jobs.” What’s the difference?

There is more afoot here, its xenophobia and it must be challenged. It is important that we do not repeat the injustices of the past. Full immigration status for all, full rights for all workers is the only way forward. Resist attempts to divide unemployed, migrant, and poor people.

Decent Work, Decent Lives – What’s in the Bills?

We have a real opportunity to effect change

This spring, we have a real opportunity to pass laws that will improve our wages and working conditions. There are now several important bills being considered by Members of Provincial Parliament. But we need to work together to make sure that these bills are strengthened and passed before the Legislative Assembly breaks for the summer. Even if an election is called, this is a recipe for change that we can all get behind.

Here’s what’s at stake:

Prohibiting recruitment fees for migrant workers

In order to work in Ontario, migrant workers pay unscrupulous recruiters tens of thousands of dollars in fees; many have little choice but to borrow the money. This debt makes migrant workers – and their families – vulnerable to loan sharks and unprincipled employers and makes it even more dangerous for migrant workers to speak out.

  • Bill 146 extends the ban on recruitment fees from live-in caregivers to all migrant workers.
  • Bill 161 gives Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the power to create registries for employers and recruiters but does not specify any details,
  • Bill 161 unfairly excludes low-waged migrant workers from access to immigration status

We can strengthen Bills 146 and modify Bill 161 by ensuring that:

  • There is a proactive and public system to license recruiters and register employers who hire migrant workers;
  • Recruiters are required to put forward a mandatory financial security in form of a bond, irrevocable letter of credit or deposit before being licensed;
  • Recruiters and employers are jointly and severally liable for any and all exploitative recruitment practices in Canada and abroad;
  • Employers are prohibited from charging any fees to migrant workers and that the onus of fee non-payment be on the recruiter, not the migrant worker;
  • The time limit on complaints be at least five years so that workers can seek justice after their contracts finish;
  • All migrant workers coming in to Ontario have access to full immigration status, access to social benefits, protections from reprisals and meaningful labour protections.

Maintaining the value of the minimum wage

For the past four years, the minimum wage has been frozen at $10.25. Meanwhile, the real value of minimum wage has been eroded by rising costs.

  • Bill 165 increases the minimum wage by the rate of inflation each year and sets up a process for reviewing the minimum wage every five years.

We can strengthen Bill 165 by ensuring that:

  • The minimum wage brings full-time workers 10% above the poverty line and be assessed regularly against this criterion; and
  • Reviews of the minimum wage be every two years, instead of every five years;
  • All minimum wage provisions apply to all workers, regardless of their age or occupation, or their student or citizenship status.

Regulating temporary agencies (temp agencies)

Temp agency workers typically earn 40% less than their co-workers hired directly by the company. Agency workers receive less pay, fewer or no benefits, little protection against employment rights violations and no protection against termination. Despite their temporary status, agency workers often work for months and years beside workers doing exactly the same work.

  • Bill 146 makes temp agencies and the client company jointly responsible for paying workers’ unpaid wages and overtime pay;
  • Bill 146 ensures the client company is responsible for workplace injury and accident costs involving agency workers;
  • Bill 159 stipulates that agency workers must receive 80% of the total wages [SS2] paid by the client company to the temp agency.
  • Bill 159 limits the proportion of agency workers in a company’s workforce to no more than 25%; small businesses are exempted from this provision;
  • Bill 159 obligates all temp agencies to have a license to operate in Ontario;

We can strengthen Bills 146 and 159 by ensuring that:

  • Temp agencies workers receive the same wages and working conditions afforded to workers hired directly by the client company.
  • Client companies are jointly responsible for all monetary and non-monetary entitlements under the ESA, not just wages and overtime.
  • Section 74.8(1)* is repealed to eliminate provisions by which client companies are prevented from hiring temp agency workers directly.
  • Temp agency workers are hired directly by the client company after a certain period of time and are protected from unfair dismissals by either the temp agency or the client company.

Curbing wage theft

All too often, Ontario workers work hard but don’t get paid. This is wage theft. A recent Workers’ Action Centre survey found that 1 in 3 workers in low wage, precarious jobs experienced wage theft in the last 5 years. Wage theft takes the form of unpaid wages, unpaid vacation pay or overtime pay as well as employers’ misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Interns – even those who are paid – are also vulnerable to wage theft. Within the hospitality sector, employers who withhold tips and gratuities from their employees or who require their employees to forfeit their tips and gratuities are engaging in wage theft.

  • Bill 146 extends the time limits for workers claim unpaid wages from 6 months to 2 years
  • Bill 146 eliminates the inadequate $10,000 limit on the amount of unpaid wages that can be claimed;
  • Bill 146 requires employers to provide each employee with a poster on their rights under the Employment Standards Act and, if requested, requires the employer to provide translated versions of the poster;
  • Bill 146 sets out new rules for employer self-audits;
  • Bill 49 prohibits employers from forcing employees to forfeit their tips and gratuities; and
  • Bill 170 asserts that individuals receiving training be protected by certain provisions of the Employment Standards Act.

We can strengthen Bill 146 by ensuring that:

  • Time limits for filing claims are extended to five years for migrant workers;
  • The onus is on the employer – not the worker – for providing translations of the employee rights poster;
  • The provision to provide an employee rights poster should come into effect immediately;
  • The elimination of the monetary cap and the extension of time limits on unpaid wage claims come into effect immediately upon passage of Bill 146.

Having a voice at work

More people are finding themselves in part-time, contract work, often juggling two or three jobs. By making it easier for us to join unions and work together to improve wages and working conditions, we are better able to turn bad jobs into better ones.

  • Bill 129 brings forward a number of important changes that would make it easier for us to form unions and have a voice at work.

Take action!

Although some of these bills need important changes to ensure we all have the strongest protection possible, these bills provide us with an opportunity we have not seen in a long time. By working together to get these bills strengthened and passed, we can lay the groundwork for decent work and decent lives for all of us.

That’s why we are calling on you to help get these bills strengthened and passed before the legislature adjourns for the summer – or for an election.

Can you join us and help us get these bills strengthened and passed?

  1. Click here now to send a message to your MPP.
  2. Organize an action in your community on April 14th – a provincial day of action for decent pay and decent work.
  3. Call us or email us to find out how you can make a deputation to a legislative committee – coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org
  4. Find out more about the issues:

New bill pushes government for better protections of temp agency workers
What’s in Bill 146?
New bill to index minimum wage to cost of living 
Migrant workers respond to proposed Ontario law
Towards a Fair Ontario Immigration Act