Canada: Government Seeks to Extend Insurance for Construction Workers

The Canadian government is contemplating extending mandatory workplace safety and insurance coverage to most people who work in construction, Canada's Minister of Labor Steve Peters announced March 28.

Extending mandatory coverage to most construction workers would make it more difficult for individuals and employers to hide underground economic activities, such as hiring workers under the table. It would also bring a significant portion of workers in the construction sector under the protection of the workplace safety and insurance system, helping Ontario reach the goal of reducing workplace injuries by 20 percent by 2008. "This consultation is part of a broader government strategy to tackle the underground economy in construction, protect workers and business from unfair competition and promote strong economic growth," said Peters. "We want to hear the views of the construction industry on how best to tackle the underground economy."

The change also would help legitimate businesses that often are undercut by unfair competition, and consumers who have no way of knowing if workers they hire are part of the underground economy.

"We are looking for ways to strengthen our economy and ensure fair competition for all Ontario businesses - particularly small businesses," said Peters. "Our government is continuing to pave the way for improvements in key areas of our economy, ensuring a more prosperous long-term future for everyone."

A discussion paper is available on the Ministry of Labor Web site at www.labour.gov.on.ca.

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