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News alert for Ontario! New legislation makes employers accountable for temp worker injuries

Tamara Parris

We finally have legislation coming into Ontario, Canada to hold employers who are using a temporary employment agency liable for workplace accidents impacting those temporary workers.

This new legislation is meant to hold the company responsible when a temporary worker is injured or killed in their workplace.

The province of Ontario, once again, is a trailblazer in workplace safety law because we are the first jurisdiction in Canada to uphold employers' accountable for the safety of this marginalized worker group.

The Toronto Star provided the following data from an investigation they conducted to learn about temporary agency workers in Ontario, who are often placed in non-clerical environments such as plants, warehouses and factories. These workers are twice as likely to be harmed than their non-temp counterparts because they often lack the training and learning resources the full time and permanent workers have access to within the company.

We learned in the Star's report that temporary employment agenices in Ontario have increased by 20 per cent over the past ten years. The Star found that there are over 1,700 of them operating in the Greater Toronto Area alone.

The Star reporter went undercover posing as a low-wage temporary worker in a North York industrial bakery which relies on these workers because it is a mass-producer of bread products for fast-food chains and major grocery stores. The Star reporter received only five minutes of safety training. In addition, we learned they were paid cash from a payday lender, and they did not receive any pay stub or statutory deductions to legally prove their employment with the company. This lack of work documentation creates many barriers for temporary workers. For example, if they are harmed they cannot provide proper documentation during a hospital visit, they cannot file a worker’s compensation claim, and there is no route to hold the company accountable afterwards.

To conclude, I wanted to share an article I read by the Globe and Mail, with resources from Statistics Canada, that shared the top jobs reporting the highest fatality rates in Canada.

See image 1 below.

Image 1.

We tend to treat on-the-job deaths or accidents as isolated incidents in our workplaces when in fact if we started looking at the story through the lens of "Big Data" we could then start to see patterns emerge which reveal that there are clearly certain industries which have a systemic problem which needs to be addressed. From this lens we could then use predictive methods to mitigate reoccurring risks. 

It would be great to hear our members' thoughts and insights on this topic in the comments area below.

Darren Calabrese, 'We're not seeing the truth': Inside the hidden dangers of the Canadian workplace, Globe and Mail (October 29, 2017),

Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Temp agencies on rise as province seek to protect vulnerable workers, The Toronto Star (July 15, 2017),

March 19, 2018 @ 02:20 PM EDT

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