The nature of employment is evolving. The standard employment relationship characterized by full-time, secure employment, where the worker has access to good wages and benefits, is no longer the norm, to the extent it ever was. Increasingly, more precarious forms of work have arisen defined by low wages with few or no benefits, little job security and minimal control over work conditions. These workers are disproportionately women, racialized persons, immigrants, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, older adults and youth.

These changes in the nature of work and the characteristics of the emerging class of vulnerable workers engaged in precarious work led to the Law Commission of Ontario’s (LCO)’s project on Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work.


Purpose of the Project:

The objective of this project is to make recommendations designed to respond to the challenges faced by vulnerable workers to either reduce their vulnerability to, or the impacts of, precarious work. The Project focuses, in particular, on improvements to the statutory and policy framework of the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act in protecting these workers. However, it also reviews and makes recommendations about existing community and government supports and programs for workers, employers and for training and education, as well as the role of labour organizations.


What We Have Done:

  • The LCO formed an Advisory Group made up of academics and advocates and representatives of workers, employers and community organizations.
  • The LCO commissioned two research papers from experts in the field in relation to the extent of precarious work in Ontario and Employment Standards Act enforcement and precarious jobs, as well as carrying out considerable internal research.
  • Over the course of the Project, the LCO engaged in approximately 50 consultations with individuals and organizations. 
  • In early 2011, the LCO released Background and Consultation papers, and received and reviewed submissions from a range of individuals and organizations. 
  • In August 2012, we released our Interim Report. Feedback from the Interim Report is integrated into the Final Report.
  • In December 2012, the Board of Governors approved the Final Report. 
  • The LCO has released the Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work Final Report today (April 3, 2013).


Members of the Project Advisory Group:

  • Erika Gates-Gasse – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
  • Mary Gellatly – Parkdale Community Legal Services
  • Sean Kennedy – Ontario Bar Association
  • Deena Ladd – Workers’ Action Centre
  • Ken Linington – Labour Issues Coordinating Committee/Flowers Canada Ontario Inc.
  • Professor Katherine Lippel – University of Ottawa, Faculty of Civil Law
  • Mary-Ellen McIntyre – Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples
  • Naveen Mehta – United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW)
  • Benita Swarbrick – Ontario Ministry of Labour
  • Professor Eric Tucker – Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Professor Leah Vosko – York University, Department of Political Science
  • Mark Wales – Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Armine Yalnizyan – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives