Ontario to increase fines for ‘bad actor’ employers

Ontario is set to clamp down on bad employers with big fines.

Labor Minister David Piccini says his government will introduce legislation next week that will increase fines for violations of the Labor Standards Act.

Piccini says he’s sending a message to “bad actor” employers: There will be more serious consequences for exploiting workers.

They seek to crack down on organizations that don’t pay salaries, penalize employees for taking pregnancy or paternity leave, and have unequal pay for the same work.

The maximum fine for people convicted of violating the law will increase from $50,000 to $100,000.

Ministry of Labor investigators will now be able to impose fines of $5,000 on repeat offenders, up from $1,000, which can be multiplied depending on the number of employees affected by the violation of the law.

“We’re sending a clear message that as our economy grows and we attract all of these incredible investments, we’re going to protect workers,” Piccini said.

“We know that through the bombings of recent years, we have found bad actors.”

A recent ministry investigation found that 10,000 Ontario workers are owed a total of $4.2 million, Piccini said.

“That sends a signal to us that we have to do more to protect our workers in Ontario,” he said.

The new fines are part of an overall labor bill that will be introduced in the legislature on Monday.

It will provide wildland firefighters with the same cancer, heart and post-traumatic stress coverage as municipal firefighters. The province is creating a new high school apprenticeship pathway for graduation that the government hopes will meet demand for skilled trades.

And the province will also eliminate sick leave requirements for short absences in an effort to lessen the workload of overworked family physicians.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024.