Politics Blog: Bill 88 ‘Working for Workers’ sounds good, but does little to help gig workers

Toronto – March 17, 2022 – Doug Ford’s Conservative government is great at coming up with nice-sounding names for new bills, but in most cases the names are the only good things about these bills.

A great example is the recently introduced Bill 88, Working for Workers. While the name of the bill may indicate the government is doing something to help workers, the details reveal that Ford’s government is doing very little to help anyone.

The government claims that it is addressing issues around the growing gig economy, through the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act. Estimates suggest gig work accounts for 7 to 10 percent of the province’s workforce, or about 800,000 Ontario workers. In true Ford fashion, the government shutdown any debate on second reading of the bill that effects so many workers.

Instead of providing these workers access to basic rights under the provincial Employment Standards Act, the bill does the opposite by excluding these workers and continuing to recognize them as independent contractors. This denies gig workers many of the same rights enjoyed by all workers in Ontario. In fact, these workers will continue to be denied basic entitlements like overtime pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, termination pay, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage, and other employment standards.

The bill claims to guarantee app-based workers like Uber drivers and food delivery couriers the minimum wage, but when you read the fine print, nothing could be further from the truth.

The bill only guarantees a minimum wage for the time a driver has a passenger in the car or the food delivery person has picked up the food order, and is enroute to the destination. It does not account for time driving to pick up the passenger or food delivery, nor does it account for any time waiting for the passenger to come out or in the event of delays during food pickup. 

In the end, the bill does not actually ensure gig-workers are paid for all the time they are working. UFCW Canada and Uber are advocating for a standard that is 20 percent above minimum wage, which acknowledges these realities.

UFCW Canada, as part of the historic agreement with Uber that provides representation for drivers and food couriers, has put together a set of standards that the two organizations have been lobbying provincial governments, including Ontario, to implement.

This includes earning standards that ensure workers earn at least the minimum wage, if not more, and addresses issues raised by workers around flexibility, representation rights, health and safety, and notice of termination. The changes in Bill 88 introduced by the Ford government do not even come close to meeting the standards being put forward by UFCW Canada and Uber.

Once again, the Ford government uses the title of a bill to make it sound like they care about working people leading into a provincial election, but the details of the bill reveal that they really do not care about workers at all and just want to sound like they do.