Ontario's most vulnerable workers getting "bum's rush" with Bill 139 deadline

    -Hasty deadline to vote endangers hundreds of thousands of Ontario
    workers and small businesses-

    TORONTO, April 2 /CNW/ - Portions of the Employment Standards Act, Bill
139, threaten to severely harm many of Ontario's most vulnerable workers in
the staffing services sector.
    An overly-zealous faction within the Ontario Government, led by Liberal
MPP Vic Dhillon, is insisting on a hasty rubber stamping of the bill without
any heed to the information received in the public hearings. After hearing
more than 50 presentations over the last week, ministry insiders have
indicated to the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing
Services (ACSESS), an association that represents more than 1000 staffing firm
offices nationwide, that there are not yet any amendments in the works for
governments self imposed deadline of Monday April 6th.
    "This arbitrary deadline is a show of irresponsible government and does
not allow for a reasonable period of review or a thoughtful and measured
review of the social and economic ramifications of legislation that will
effect hundreds of thousands of Ontarians - mostly new Canadians," said Steve
Jones, President of the ACSESS. "Without time to address the two minor
revisions to the wording of the Bill, its passage will have a devastating
effect on people - especially those for whom English is not a first language -
and who will have no staffing services support to rely on to compete for
temporary work in this severe economic downturn." ACSESS estimates that
without the assistance of a temporary staffing service, individuals seeking
work will have to reach out personally to more than 300 separate companies to
find one job.
    In addition to the negative impact to Ontario workers, Bill 139 as it
currently exists will also be debilitating for the small businesses in the
    Jones is also President and CEO of The People Bank, a privately held
staffing service in the province. His company, which has been operating in
Ontario for 26 years, is ISO certified, and has been listed by Deloitte &
Touche for nine years as one of Canada's Best Managed Companies, has already
laid-off over 20% of his recruitment workforce due to the reduced hiring
within Ontario. He predicts that under Bill 139, many companies will have no
choice but to close permanently, effectively undermining Ontario's ability to
compete and win in a post recession economy.
    ACSESS is still hopeful that Government will respect the needs of workers
and allow the appropriate amount of time to make the two important amendments
and reverse this potentially devastating course of action before Monday.
    ACSESS believes the voice of a much larger group of MPPs and ministry
staff, who understand and support the changes required to protect workers and
help industry connect them with secure jobs, is having a hard time being heard
amid the rhetoric of Dhillon and anti-business advocacy groups.
    ACSESS has worked closely with the Ontario government and been
instrumental to many of the provisions within the bill designed to protect
workers. The industry and business groups strongly support the bill's
overarching objectives with the two revisions.
    In this week's hearings, examples of individual stories, told by
employers in the private sector showed how the employment and staffing
industry connects hundreds of thousands of Ontario workers with full-time
    Supporting this view was a presentation given by Kelly Harbridge, Senior
Labour Council of Magna International. Harbridge told the committee that in
2001, their Etobicoke-based plant transitioned all 500 employees from
temporary workers to full-time regular employees.
    "The new rule forcing staffing firms to a more onerous and expensive
standard for termination pay is greater than any other employer in Ontario. As
well, the government's interference in an agency's ability to charge fees to
companies for the services provided, will cripple the industry and in the end
do great harm to the employees it is meant to protect," said Jones.

    ACSESS is the single voice for promoting best industry practices for the
recruitment, employment and staffing services industry in Canada and supports
advancement of the staffing industry through professional training and
certification programs, leading to a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC)
designation. It monitors trends and provides input to federal and provincial
governments on employment legislation and regulations. ACSESS members are
committed to helping businesses respond to the changing marketplace and to
offering a broad range of employment opportunities and services to their
clients. For more information, visit: www.acsess.org.

For further information:

For further information: For media inquires contact: Brown & Cohen
Communications & Public Affairs Inc., (416) 484-1132; Kendra Dubyk, ext. 5,
kendra@brown-cohen.com; Wendy Kauffman, ext. 3, wendy@brown-cohen.com

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