Ontario names panel for expanded health and benefits coverage for workers
Over the coming months, the panel will conduct research and consultations, assessing existing gaps in benefits coverage for different types of workers.
QUEEN’S PARK — The Ontario government has named five professionals to provide advice on expanding benefits like health, dental and vision care to more workers, even if they change jobs. Members of the 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.