Province targets ‘scumbag’ employers, mandating washrooms on construction sites

Ontario Construction News staff writer

A new omnibus labour bill introduced Monday would slap steep fines on Ontario employers who withhold migrant workers’ passports, extend mass layoff protections to remote workers and require more washrooms on construction sites.

Legislation presented by Labour Minister Monte McNaughton extends mass layoff provisions to remote workers and doubles the number of washrooms on construction sites – requiring some for women only – as well as protections for workers who are foreign nationals.

“My message to those scumbags out there abusing migrant workers is this: you can run but you can’t hide,” McNaughton said at a press conference. “We will find you, fine you and put you behind bars.”

Currently, labour inspectors can levy penalties of $250 for each passport or work permit that is withheld, but with the proposed changes, that would rise to $100,000. Subsequent instances could see that penalty rise to $200,000.

As well, if an individual employer is ultimately convicted by the courts of such an offence, they would also be subject to a fine of up to $500,000, up to 12 months in jail or both, while corporations could be fined up to $1 million.

The legislation also requires at least one women’s only toilet on large construction sites, double the number of toilets required on job sites, require adequate lighting, require hand sanitizer where there is no running water, and require single toilets to be completely enclosed.

Ontario is also proposing to boost the fine for corporations convicted of any offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act from $1.5 million to $2 million.

As well, it would update employment laws to ensure employees who work solely from home are eligible for the same enhanced notice as “in-office” and other employees in mass termination situations.

The changes would give remote workers the same eight-week minimum notice of termination or pay-in-lieu as other employees.

Another section of the bill would protect the civilian jobs of military reservists, even if they just started a new job or need time off to recover from mental or physical injuries.


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