TORONTO — The Ontario government is releasing 21 recommendations from the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) on making the province the best place to live, work and raise a family. The committee delivered their interim report in the summer, which has led to the passing of first-of-their-kind changes in Canada through the Working for Workers Act, 2021, including requiring most workplaces to have a right to disconnect policy, banning businesses from using non-compete agreements, and making it easier for internationally-trained individuals to practice in their professions. Details of the report were shared today by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, joined by Deepak Anand, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister. “The future of work is already here. If we want to be leaders, we need to quickly adapt,” said Minister McNaughton. “We’re not going back to where we were before the pandemic. Taking these steps now rebalances the scales and puts Ontario workers and their families first for generations to come.” To better understand the challenges associated with the changing nature of work, the committee consulted extensively with workers, labour groups, businesses, and academics across Ontario and internationally. “Workers are the subject matter experts of their own experiences, and this report would not have been possible without these sage perspectives,” said Rohinton P. Medhora, OWRAC Chair and President of the Centre for International Governance Innovation. “It was a privilege to hear directly from over 700 Ontarians as our committee worked to identify practical solutions that will provide tangible improvements to the lives of workers in this province. With this report, I’m confident we’ve done just that.” Recommendations from the committee include:
#8: “Appoint an expert to design and test a portable benefits program, where contributors could be employers, workers and the government.”
#15: “Create and recognize the dependent contractor category for gig or platform workers in the app-based space and give this category of workers basic employment rights.”
#21: Develop an employment brand and communications strategy for domestic and international markets to promote Ontario as a desirable place to work and live.
The government is considering all of the report’s recommendations and plans to take further action, including steps to protect and support digital platform workers. Already, Ontario is improving transportation, virtual care, and broadband internet access to become a “work from anywhere” province.
From June to September, the Committee met with over 150 workers, union leaders, advocacy groups, and employers. They reviewed and analyzed an additional 550 written submissions, and surveyed over 2,000 people from Ontario.
The OWRAC members included experts from a variety of sectors and professions, including labour law, governance, academia and venture capital. In addition to the Committee chair, the members included:
Mark Beckles, vice-president of Social Impact and Innovation with RBC Corporate Citizenship.
Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar, executive-director of McMaster University’s Master of Public Policy in Digital Society.
Kathryn Marshall, an employment lawyer based in Toronto focused on employment law and civil litigation.
Susan McArthur, a corporate director, venture capitalist and investment banker.
Mark Quail, a lawyer in private practice in Toronto on entertainment and technology-related matters.
Sean Speer, assistant professor in public policy at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.