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Ontario says it's coming for 'scumbag' temp help agencies mistreating workers


Ontario will require temporary help agencies and recruiters to have a licence in order to operate in the province starting next year.

These agencies will need to undergo a background check and will be subject to “massive fines” if they break the rules.

“It’ll be the highest fines in the country,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton told CTV News Toronto, noting that depending on the infraction the agency could be asked to pay up to $50,000 or could receive “a lifetime ban of operating in Ontario.”

“I’ve made it a mission to ensure that every single worker in our province, regardless of passport status, has health and safety protections,” the minister said.

“I’ve brought in massive fines for any scumbag out there that is withholding passports or work visa documents and I’ve gone even further. We’ve created in my ministry a special team that is investigating temp help agencies that aren’t treating workers the way they should be treated.”

McNaughton noted that these agencies helped about 114,000 people find full-time employment in 2022. This includes a wide variety of industries and employees, including migrant and foreign workers.

However, the government cited inspections that found a number of “bad actors” who were illegally paying workers less than minimum wage and denying basic employment rights.

The new requirement is part of Ontario’s Working for Workers Act and was first announced in 2021. The legislation will make it illegal for companies to use unlicensed businesses for staffing as of Jan. 1, 2024.

Those that do will be required to repay workers for any illegal fees charged to them, officials said.

In order to operate, temporary help agencies and recruiters will need to provide $25,000 in the form of an “irrevocable letter of credit that can be used to repay owed wages to employees,” the government said.

Businesses will be able to search through a database of licensed agencies in order to find staff.

“This will ensure better worker protections. It will also ensure that employers that are using temp health agencies will know that they're using ones that are approved by the Government of Ontario,” McNaughton said.

Agencies that apply for a licence and are refused will have 30 days to cease operation. Licences will need to be renewed each year. Top Stories

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