As the founder of GEM Health Care Services and member of the board for Home Care Ontario, Gaye Moffett does a lot of advocacy work for her clients behind the scenes.
After spending the past few years lobbying the provincial and federal governments about three key pieces of legislation to keep clients safe and lower the cost of care, she’s happy to report a recent victory.
The eligibility criteria to be licensed is stringent to protect both employees and clients, as well as preventing the loss of tax dollars.
“We’re certainly in favour of this legislation,” said Moffett. “It stops people from putting up a ‘fly-by-night’ temp agency on Kijiji without any oversight or regulation.”
How do you get a licence?
The bar for a Temporary Help Agency to meet the licensing criteria includes:
- CRA business number
- WSIB certificate
- Liability insurance and indemnification
- Third party quality control, eg. ISO or other relevant certification
- Criminal background and vulnerable population checks for all staff
- Putting $25,000 in escrow to cover wages in the event of bankruptcy
- Application fee of $750
How does this legislation help?
While the legislation protects temporary employees from unfair wages and exploitation in any industry or sector, it’s especially important for home care staffing agencies.
“Our clients are vulnerable and working conditions for our employees can be precarious due to the unpredictable nature of the work,” said Moffett. “They need a staffing agency that knows how to conduct a care assessment so that clients are getting what they need, and staff are being matched to the right clients on a consistent basis.”
Some online home care staffing agencies that call themselves a “matching platform” claim to lower costs by “avoiding overhead” (such as care assessment conducted by a licensed health care practitioner).
These outfits will also need to apply for a licence before January 1, 2024 and meet the same criteria or face stiff penalties. The government started accepting applications in July, 2023.
“While temporary help agencies are vital to Ontario’s businesses and jobseekers looking to get their foot in the door, for too long they have operated in a grey zone that allows criminals to prey on vulnerable workers,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government’s licensing system will ensure law-abiding businesses can have confidence in the THAs and recruiters they work with and that those who abuse workers face the harshest fines in Canada and are banned from operating in our province.”
How will it be enforced?
Penalties for contravening the act will be stiff, ranging from $15,000 for a first offense, to $25,000 for a second offense within three years of the first, and $50,000 for a third offense within the same three year period.
Officers will be looking for these contraventions:
- operating as a temporary help agency without a licence
- acting as a recruiter without a licence
- clients knowingly using an unlicensed temporary help agency, or
- employers, prospective employers or other recruiters knowingly engaging or using the services of an unlicensed recruiter
And if you’re wondering whether the staffing agency that’s sending your home care worker is licensed, you’ll be able to check with an online search of the government’s database.