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Ontario to increase fines for ‘bad actor’ employers

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

Labour Minister David Piccini says his government will introduce legislation next week that will see fines increased for violations of the Employment Standards Act.

Piccini says he is sending a message to “bad actor” employers there will be more severe consequences for exploiting workers.

They are looking to stamp out organizations that fail to pay wages, penalize employees for taking pregnancy or parental leave, and have unequal pay for equal work.

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

Ministry of Labour investigators will now have the ability to lay $5,000 fines for repeat offenders, up from $1,000, which can be multiplied based on the number of employees affected by contravention of the law.

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

“We know that through enforcement blitzes over the previous few years, we have found bad actors.”

A recent ministry investigation found 10,000 Ontario workers are owed, cumulatively, $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 a labour omnibus bill set to be tabled in the legislature on Monday.

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

And the province will also do away with sick note requirements for short absences in an effort to decrease workload for overworked family doctors.

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