An Act to establish a National Urban Workers Strategy
This enactment proposes to develop a National Urban Workers Strategy to address the common challenges faced by workers in Canada and to resolve inequities in taxation and access to social support mechanisms, including employment insurance. It requires the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to strike a task force, the membership of which must include the Minister of National Revenue, the Minister of Labour, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of industry, to develop a National Urban Workers Strategy. The task force must consult with provincial and territorial ministers responsible for social services, labour, pensions and others areas that relate to workers, as well as with labour organizations, representatives from industry and associations representing groups affected by this Act.
Whereas recent studies indicate that a growing sector of workers in urban areas cannot find stable, permanent and full-time employment; Whereas workers in precarious employment enjoy relatively less access to workplace benefits and pensions and have little job security or access to income security programs;
Whereas workers in Canadian towns and cities face particular challenges and inequities in taxation and access to social support mechanisms, including employment insurance;
Whereas it is essential to respect, protect and better support workers and acknowledge their contribution to Canadian society and the Canadian economy;
And whereas these factors, while growing disproportionally in urban areas, also exist in rural areas of Canada and addressing them thus supports workers across the country;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
1. This Act may be cited as the National Urban Workers Strategy Act.
Definition of “Minister”
2. In this Act, “Minister” means the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
3. (1) This Act applies to all workers in Canada, with particular attention to urban workers as described in subsection (2).
(2) For the purposes of this Act, an individual is an urban worker if his or her source of income is vulnerable or precarious because he or she works without benefits, workplace pensions or job security in the following circumstances:
(a) as an employee on a short-term contractual basis, whether continuously or intermittently;
(b) as a self-employed individual;
(c) as an employee on a part-time basis; or
(d) as an intern.
NATIONAL URBAN WORKERS STRATEGY
Strike task force
4. (1) Within 60 days after the coming into force of this Act, the Minister must strike a task force, the membership of which must include the Minister of National Revenue, the Minister of Labour, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Industry, for the purpose of developing a National Urban Workers Strategy.
(2) Within 180 days after the coming into force of this Act, for the purpose of developing the Strategy, the task force must consult with
(a) provincial and territorial ministers responsible for employment, taxation, labour matters, relevant social services, pensions and other areas that relate to workers; and
(b) labour organizations, representatives from industry and associations representing groups affected by this Act.
National Urban Workers Strategy
5. (1) The National Urban Workers Strategy must be designed to address the common challenges faced by workers, to resolve inequities in taxation, to improve access to social support mechanisms, including employment insurance and to generally improve the conditions of workers by addressing the elements and issues set out in subsections (2) to (5).
Employment insurance and income security
(2) The Strategy must identify the policy and legislative changes to the employment insurance regime that, while maintaining the integrity and financial sustainability of the regime, would improve access to employment insurance for workers and, more particularly,
(a) extend broader access to employment insurance benefits for workers by
(i) reducing the waiting period that must be served before benefits may be paid,
(ii) reducing the hours of employment required to qualify for benefits,
(iii) raising the level of benefits, and
(iv) extending the maximum benefit period;
(b) improve the benefits available to workers in cyclical or intermittent employment sectors and protect those workers from being forced to take lower-paying jobs; and
(c) improve income security for self-employed individuals.
(3) The Strategy must identify policy and legislative changes to address the inequities of the current taxation regime that affect workers and, more particularly,
(a) study the viability and impacts of income averaging for vulnerable workers with volatile incomes, such as employees who work on a short-term contractual basis and self-employed individuals;
(b) review GST collection requirements for self-employed individuals;
(c) clarify and simplify the process for filing income taxes for employees who work on a short-term contractual basis and self-employed individuals; and
(d) expand the Working Income Tax Benefit.
(4) The Strategy must identify policy and legislative changes to address the need for workers to have access to an adequate pension in order to maintain quality of life in retirement years and, more particularly,
(a) to increase benefits paid out by the Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan, as the case may be;
(b) to restore the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits to 65 years of age;
(c) to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement while ensuring the long-term fiscal sustainability of the program;
(d) to improve the availability of affordable retirement savings vehicles that provide minimum guaranteed benefits; and
(e) to protect workplace pensions more effectively under federal bankruptcy legislation.
(5) The Strategy must identify policy and legislative changes proposed, within the limits of their respective jurisdictions, by the task force and by the provincial and territorial ministers referred to in paragraph 4(2)(a), to address other factors related to the changing type of work in urban areas, including
(a) developing measures to prevent the erroneous classification of certain employees as independent contractors;
(b) increasing public awareness, monitoring and enforcement of existing legislation and strengthening employment standards to prevent the misuse of paid and unpaid internships;
(c) developing measures to address the lack of additional benefits, including health, dental and drug insurance, for workers who do not have access to such benefits; and
(d) increasing public awareness, monitoring and enforcement of legislation pertaining to temporary employment agencies.
Report to Parliament
6. The Minister must cause a report on the work of the task force, including the matters referred to in subsections 5(1) to (4), to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first five days on which that House is sitting following the expiration of 180 days after the formation of the task force.