Why Ontario's Bill 148 on workplace reform is needed
This is why workplace reform requires more than an increase
in the minimum wage. Temp agencies are helping to drive down wages, increase
inequality and drive up health and welfare costs.
UNDERCOVER IN TEMP
Amina Diaby died last year in an accident inside one of the
GTA’s largest industrial bakeries where, the company says, worker safety is its
highest concern. The 23-year-old was one of thousands of Ontarians who have
turned to temporary employment agencies to find jobs that often come with low
pay and little training for sometimes dangerous work. The Star’s Sara
Mojtehedzadeh went undercover for a month at the factory where Diaby
By Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy
September 8, 2017
Some highlights …
- Supervisors shout at us to wake up. They
shout at us to move faster, pinch nicer, work harder. No one talks through the
noise and exhaustion.
- Fiera has also received some $4.7 million in
government loans and grants to expand capacity and create good
- I get about five minutes of training in a
factory packed with industrial equipment.
- When a temp gets hurt, the company is not
fully responsible because the temp agency assumes liability at the worker’s
- Over the past decade, the number of temp
agency offices opening across Ontario has increased by 20 per cent, with some
1,700 operating in the GTA alone, statistics obtained by the Star
- Temps are often paid less than permanent
counterparts doing the same job, and sometimes work for long periods of time in
supposedly “temporary” positions.
- The pay is $11.50 an hour, cash, 10 cents
above minimum wage.
- I will never meet anyone from the temp
agency in person. As I will find out later, their offices do not even
- “Nobody likes this job,” she says in
hesitant English. “But the money.”
- Overall in Ontario, temporary jobs — which
include but are not limited to temp agency jobs — have grown at more than four
times the rate of permanent jobs since the 2008 recession, according to
- “most employers don’t treat temporary
workers the way they treat their permanent employees — they don’t provide them
with the training that is necessary.”
- Even when they get hurt, many temp workers
don’t file compensation claims because they are afraid of losing their
- Claims suppression [by employers] was
identified as an issue across all sectors in a 2013 study for the
- Despite the orders issued by the Ministry of
Labour against Fiera Foods, it remains a model employer in the eyes of the
WSIB. The repeated safety violations found by Ministry of Labour inspectors also
don’t affect Fiera’s premiums.
- Temp agency: “We don’t do records of
employment, no job letters, and no pay stubs.”
- We aren’t paid when we are sick. We aren’t
told if we are working the weekend until the last minute.
- “They like to drain you in this Canada,” she
[a recent immigrant] says.
- “People do desperate things,” she says,
“when they have no choice.”
- “I am a human being,” she says. “Not a
- Bill 148 won’t fix the situation at Fiera