McGuinty Government Committed To Protecting Employees' Rights



    $3.6 Million Will Help Speed Up Resolution Of Employment Standards Claims

    SAULT STE. MARIE, April 24 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is committed
to protecting the rights of Ontario's most vulnerable workers and has pledged
$3.6 million to tackle the backlog of employments standards claims, announced
Labour Minister Steve Peters.
    "Enforcing fair and equitable employment standards is key to a prosperous
Ontario," said Peters. "This additional funding will allow us to improve
service delivery and shorten the time it takes to resolve employment standards
claims."
    The new funding is part of a larger strategy that will go towards hiring
additional staff at the Provincial Claims Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. One
million dollars of the new funding will result in the hiring of 15 new staff
over the next few months. These new additions will improve efficiency in the
claims process.
    The additional funding will allow the ministry to continue targeted,
proactive enforcement activities to help prevent employment standards
contraventions before they happen. The added resources will also be
complemented by a new province-wide computer system that will automate and
standardize claims processing based on best practices, freeing up
administrative resources.
    "The people of Sault Ste. Marie and the North are pleased the government
is taking specific measures to strengthen Ontario's northern communities,"
said David Orazietti, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. "The McGuinty government is
ensuring the North shares in an era of new economic strength in Ontario."
    "Fair workplaces contribute to strong and successful businesses," Peters
said, "successful businesses ensure continued prosperity for the people of
Ontario."

    
    Disponible en français

                             www.labour.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                GOVERNMENT AIMS TO SPEED UP CLAIMS RESOLUTION
    

    As the result of a number of factors, claims under the Employment
Standards Act by employees for such things as termination pay, unpaid wages
and vacation pay have increased recently and created a backlog of unresolved
claims.

    Factors leading to an increase in claims

    In 2006, the Ministry of Labour introduced internet filing of claims and
partnered with ServiceOntario to provide and accept claims through
ServiceOntario Centres, increasing the number of locations where clients can
access Employment Standards claim forms from 21 to 63 locations province-wide.
The convenient 24/7 online filing system and increased accessibility through
ServiceOntario Centres has made it easier for employees to file claims.
    The Ministry of Labour has also been conducting outreach and awareness
efforts aimed at diverse communities to increase knowledge of employment
standards law in Ontario. The government has announced in recent years
partnerships with organizations such as the Centre for Information and
Community Services (CICS) in Scarborough and SISO (Settlement and Integration
Services Organization) of Hamilton who provide training and orientation to
clients in diverse and new communities. The ministry has educated the
organizations' counsellors in employment standards law and they, in turn, are
able to foster an understanding of workplace rights and responsibilities in
clients from diverse cultures and in diverse languages.
    The government also put emphasis on proactive inspections in targeted
sectors of the economy where workers are at most risk of not getting their
employment standards rights. The Ministry of Labour has a dedicated
enforcement team for this purpose.

    New funds would support initiatives

    The 2007 budget presented by the Minister of Finance states that the
government is committed to protecting the legislated employment rights of
Ontario's most vulnerable workers by dealing with the backlog of claims they
have filed under the Employment Standards Act.
    The budget proposes an additional $3.6 million annually to address
uninvestigated employment standards complaints. The goal is to improve
frontline service and shorten claims-resolution times. The new funds would be
used to increase staffing to improve efficiencies in the claims triage and
early resolution process. They would also be used to provide additional
support to expedite the investigation of claims.

    
        -  The Ministry of Labour receives more than 20,000 claims annually.

    For further information:

    Public enquiries:
    1-800-268-8013

    Media enquiries:
    Belinda Sutton
    Ministry of Labour
    416-326-7405

    Disponible en français

                             www.labour.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Public enquiries: 1-800-268-8013; Media
enquiries: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton,
Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405

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Ontario Ministry of Labour

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