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Repeal workplace Ontario Insurance law, group tells new Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi

Guthrie Insurance

More government intervention in the marketplace yet they can't manage their own finances! Can you imagine if WSIB was privately run, such as in the USA, and incurred at $14 billion debt? Easiest thing to spend is "OPM" other people's money -

OTTAWA — A group of independent contractors called on new Labour Minister YasirNaqvi Friday, to repeal a new law that they say imposes harsh workplace insurance premiums on them.

And Randy Hillier, the opposition Progressive Conservative labour critic, was on hand to lend his support, warning that if Naqvi and the Liberal government don't act, he will table legislation to repeal the law. The PCs have vowed to repeal the law if they form the next government.

Naqvi said he has met the group to listen to its concerns, but he said the law is important to protect Ontario workers who often are injured on construction sites and have no help.

"My No. 1 mandate as minister of labour is to protect the health and safety of Ontario workers, and this law does that," he said.

But members of the Movement against Bill 119 say the new law, which will cost small and independent operators between $5,000 and $15,000 in additional insurance premiums, would kill off small businesses struggling to survive in a slow economy. They say the new premiums are nothing but a "tax grab" by the government to help the Workplace Insurance Safety Board dig itself out of a $14-billion hole. The group said it will organize a mass protest of contractors against the new law at Queen's Park on Feb. 28.

"The government and the WSIB need to realize that we are serious," Juliette Forgues, a spokesperson for the Movement against Bill 119, said at a news conference outside Naqvi's constituency office.

"We are against the mandatory insurance coverage. It is not the responsibility of contractors to pay the WSIB debt. We are hard workers and they need to listen to us."

The new law, which, after a one year grace period came into force this year, extends mandatory workers' compensation insurance coverage to small, independent and other operators in the construction industry that previously relied on their own, private insurance.

The large construction companies support the legislation, which they say, levels the playing field by requiring the small operators to play by the same rules.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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