OWRAC Report: Gig Workers Shall be Second-Class Workers
Thursday December 9 2021
For Immediate Release
OTTAWA - The Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee today released its anticipated report on the
future of work, and as expected, its recommendations call for the creation of a third category of worker
that will not have full employee rights and will not be able to legally unionize.
“This is what Uber and app-based companies wanted,” says Jennifer Scott, President, Gig Workers United.
“They lobbied for the creation of a third category of worker and for portable benefits. If the Committee
and the Ontario government cared about workers in a just recovery, they wouldn’t kneel to app-based
employers lobbying for legislative change to enshrine worker precarity into law.”
While the Ontario government said the Committee spoke to over 700 people before determining its
recommendations, the entire process didn’t include meaningful participation from workers and didn’t
include worker voices. Because of this, the recommendations end up being a gift to Uber and all other
employers that want to gigify work.
“All workers should feel threatened by this report and its recommendations,” says Jan Simpson, National
President, CUPW. “These recommendations will result in the gigification of more work. It isn’t raising the
bar for gig workers – it’s lowering the bar for ALL workers. We have to fight back against greedy bosses
and the governments who support them. We need to make sure workers’ right are protected and expanded, not
“A gig worker is a worker, full stop,” adds Scott. “App-based delivery is an essential part of our
community. International and provincial courts and governments have already ruled that gig work is real
work, that we must be protected against misclassification and have the same rights and protections as all
other workers. There are class action lawsuits and Employment Standards Act violations already underway.
Uber knows it will lose in court, but if the Ontario government accepts these recommendations, Uber wins.”
The entire process, from Uber’s proposal, to the lack of worker representation on the committee, and the
rush in producing a report, signals to gig workers and the labour movement that the Ontario government
doesn’t have any interest in truly supporting workers.
The Committee’s report recommends that app employers provide “portable benefits”, or in other words,
modest stipends from the company to workers to contribute to the cost of health insurance. “Uber could
give us these benefits right now, under existing labour laws, but they’re unwavering in their commitment
to avoid having their workers classified as employees,” adds Scott.
“Is it fair that we have to trade full and equal rights for bare bones benefits? We will be permanently
excluded from statutory benefits like maternity leave, injury protections, and pensions so we can go to
the eye doctor once a year?” says Scott. “Workers know how to tell when something is a bad deal; we’re
smarter than this and it’s offensive to be presented with carve outs and window dressing as if that is
good enough or what we deserve.”
For more information, please contact Emilie Tobin, CUPW Communications, at 613-882-2742 or [email protected].