Ontario Names Expert Panel to Expand Health and Benefits Coverage
Panel will provide advice on the design of a benefits plan tied to workers instead of employers
March 29, 2022
QUEEN’S PARK — The Ontario government is working for workers by appointing five experts to provide advice on expanding benefits like health, dental and vision care to more workers, even if they change jobs. Members of our Portable Benefits Advisory Panel will recommend the design and implementation of a new plan that will cover millions of precarious workers in sectors such as retail, the gig economy, and hospitality, and would be the first-of-its-kind in North America.
“Access to basic necessities like dental care and affordable medication shouldn’t be determined by whether or not you work a nine-to-five job, but all-too-often it is,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Today’s announcement is another historic step forward, as Ontario continues to rebalance the scales and give workers the protection and confidence they need to provide for their families and build stronger communities for us all.”
Most workers in Ontario with full-time, permanent jobs have medical insurance and dental coverage. In comparison, less than a quarter of people who work part-time or in precarious jobs have similar benefits, which means these workers, and their families, often have to make difficult choices between their health and other necessities like food and shelter. Independent contractors, low-wage workers, newcomers, younger workers, and racialized people are less likely to have workplace benefits.
The panel members represent a variety of sectors, including the perspective of those who do not currently have benefits. They have expertise in financial, legal, and labour issues and experience in the structure and administration of benefit plans. Panel members include:
- Susan McArthur (Chair), Co-Founder and Executive Chair, LockDocs Inc.
- Sunil Johal, Vice President, Public Policy, CSA Group
- Brad Nicpon, Partner, McCarthy Tétrault
- Marlayna Perrone, Professional Sommelier, and advocate with first-hand experience working without benefits
- Allan Shapira, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Aon Wealth Solutions
Over the coming months, the panel will conduct research and consultations, assessing existing gaps in benefits coverage for different types of workers, such as those in part-time positions who do not have health and dental coverage through their employers. They will submit a final report to the government in Summer 2023 with recommendations on how to best administer and implement the new benefits plan.
Expanding health and benefits coverage is part of Ontario’s ambitious plan to attract the best workers from across Canada – and around the world – by making the province the best place to live, work and raise a family.
- This announcement follows the recent introduction of new legislation that would establish a minimum wage and other foundational rights for certain digital platform workers, as well as mandate naloxone kits in high-risk workplaces and increase the maximum fines for businesses that fail to protect their workers.
- These measures build on the government’s successful changes in the Fall to ensure washroom access for delivery people, require certain workplaces to have a “disconnecting from work” policy, and ban the use of non-compete clauses in employment.
- Two-thirds of people in Ontario agree that “it is important that we have government benefits available based on where they live not who they work for”, according to a 2021 survey by Ipsos for the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee.
- Establishing this advisory panel was a key recommendation in the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee’s final report.