British Columbia has unveiled more details about its new legislation aimed at improving the working conditions for app-based ride-hailing and food-delivery gig workers.
This move, announced by Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, marks a significant step towards addressing the long-standing concerns of gig economy workers in the province.
The proposed legislation, which is currently being tabled, will establish the necessary legislative authority to develop regulations rapidly. These changes come in response to the issues raised by gig workers, including low and unpredictable wages, sudden job terminations without warning, and the absence of workers’ compensation coverage in case of on-job injuries.
Inder Raj Gill, a ride-hailing driver based in Vancouver, welcomed the announcement, stating, “This is the first and a very crucial step towards recognizing us as hard-working individuals. We can look forward to receiving a fair resolution process, pay that reflects our hard work and basic rights and benefits like any contributing member of society.”
Janet Routledge, Parliamentary Secretary for Labour, acknowledged the value gig workers place on the flexibility of their work but also recognized their significant concerns. “We believe that all workers, regardless of where they’re from or what they do, deserve protections,” she stated.
Under the new amendments, app-based workers will be considered employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act and Workers Compensation Act, regardless of their status as employees or independent contractors. This approach does not necessitate formal employment relationships between the workers and the platform companies.
The government plans to establish a set of employment standards tailored to these jobs, with the possibility of reviewing and improving the regulations over time. The new standards and protections are expected to take effect once the legislation is passed, new regulations are developed, and companies have updated their technology to comply with the new requirements.
In British Columbia, there are currently approximately 11,000 ride-hailing drivers and 27,000 food-delivery workers. This sector includes 21 licensed ride-hailing companies, like Uber and Lyft, and seven food-delivery platforms such as Uber Eats and DoorDash. A study by Research Co. highlighted the growing reliance on these services, with 32% of people in B.C. having food delivered to their homes at least once every two weeks as of February 2021.
This legislative move positions British Columbia as one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to address the vulnerabilities faced by gig economy workers, balancing worker needs with the preservation of jobs and services in this sector.