The Ontario legislature has passed the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act. The act will help protect vulnerable workers, including interns and co-op students, those who do temporary work and work as temporary foreign workers.
The legislation extends coverage under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to unpaid co-op students and other unpaid learners which will give them protection under the OHSA such as the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to refuse unsafe work.
This makes Ontario one of the few provinces to cover unpaid workers in health and safety legislation. In Quebec, the law states worker means a person, including a student, contract employee or apprentice who carries out work for an employer – with or without pay. Earlier this year, Saskatchewan made changes to its workplace laws and amendments included more protections for interns and learners in the workplace.
The Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act includes amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) that create regulation making authority to allow the government to better protect temp agency workers under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) experience rating programs.
The legislation also includes provisions to amend the Employment Standards Act and further protect temporary foreign workers.