Ontario introduces $15 minimum wage for gig workers

By Richard Southern and Lucas Casaletto

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his labour minister announced plans for new legislation that will extend the $15 minimum wage to gig workers, such as Uber drivers.

The government introduced what it’s calling the “Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act,” which establishes core rights for workers who perform digital platform work, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash drivers, couriers, and others who find jobs through the use of a mobile app.

This legislation was tabled at Queen’s Park and will take effect when proclaimed into law.

“In Ontario, we aren’t leaving any workers behind — absolutely no one,” Ford said. “They deserve every opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families.”

The legislation would give these workers a $15 minimum wage, excluding tips. However, the minimum wage would only apply for active hours — when drivers perform delivery or ride. It would not apply to hours when drivers are in between or waiting for their next delivery.

“No gig worker should be paid below minimum wage,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton told CityNews before the announcement.

When asked why his new legislation would not extend minimum wage for gig workers outside of active hours, McNaughton said it was a “beginning.”

“I can guarantee you all those workers in the gig economy are going to be a lot better off with these changes than they were yesterday.”

McNaughton didn’t deny reports that Uber Canada sent him a letter urging him to institute the minimum wage for its drivers.

“I’ve heard Uber’s proposal. I’m going in a different direction,” McNaughton said. “We’ve also seen that these companies haven’t moved. That’s why I’m stepping in to make these changes and to support these workers.”

RELATED: CFIB says Ontario’s minimum wage hike came at the worst possible time

It’s not just minimum wage. The new legislation would also layout new rights for gig workers, including receiving written information on the following.

  • How pay is calculated
  • Factors used to determine whether they are offered assignments
  • Performance rating system and consequences of poor ratings
  • How and when the operator collects tips
  • A recurring pay period and payday

The bill, if passed, would also put in place a prohibition on tips being withheld by platform operators, provide notice of removal from platform and reason for removal, and would mandate that gig workers can resolve work-related disputes in Ontario.

The legislation does not address employment status. People will get these rights simply by being digital platform workers.

This is the latest in a series of pro-worker announcements from the Ford government in advance of the June election. In December, the government unveiled plans to give health and dental benefits to gig workers.

“We’ve been working very hard for the past three-and-half years to look at the future of work, to look at how technology is changing things for workers in the province,” said McNaughton.

“There will always be more to come on this.”

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