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Michael Lynk, Western University faculty of law

B.C. seeking public input on employment protections for gig workers

Wednesday, August 16, 2023 @ 4:30 PM | By Ian Burns

British Columbia is reaching out to the public on how to provide better working conditions for gig workers in the ride hailing and food delivery industries.

The provincial Ministry of Labour has released a discussion paper as part of its consultation process to assess whether certain gig work should be covered by the Employment Standards Act. The province said low, unpredictable pay, as well as worker safety and workers’ compensation in case of becoming injured on the job are among concerns that have been identified, and pointed to a recent report from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade estimated between 26,000 and 60,000 individuals performing work using ride-sharing or food delivery platforms in the province.

The paper asks stakeholders what the minimum wage should be for app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers, and how should it be structured, as well as how tip protections should work, what standards should there be for pay transparency to show workers the minimum they will be paid prior to accepting an assignment, and how workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety coverage should be structured.

Michael Lynk, Western University

Michael Lynk, Western University

Michael Lynk, an emeritus professor at Western University faculty of law, said the steps British Columbia is taking are “significant.”

“I’m not sure if they are the first, but they are among the first comprehensive reviews of the regulation of the labour force in the gig economy anywhere in Canada,” he said. “This is a great step forward in trying to ensure there is some minimal regulation of working conditions that gig workers find themselves in to ensure they are properly compensated and aren’t exploited.”

Lynk said he expects to see a form of labour force regulation in British Columbia which ensures gig workers will have some of the protections other workers have under employment standards and workers’ compensation regimes.

“The promise that we saw a few years ago with the debates in various cities about whether to allow Uber drivers to come in amid resistance by established taxi companies, was that this was going to in some ways create a labour force ‘utopia’ where workers could decide how little or how much to work, it would entirely be at their own pace, and they would earn a wage that would match — if not exceed — what regulated industries like taxi drivers would end up earning,” he said. “But we have learned from experience over those years that there is no utopia with respect to this.”

Fred Wynne of Vancouver’s Tevlin Gleadle Curtis Employment Law Strategies said there is “probably” going to be complaints from both sides on the issue of employment protections of gig workers — with the workers saying they don’t go far enough and companies who say it is too much.

“But to me the government is doing a good job of trying to be as minimally interventionist as possible, with really only three areas they are weighing into heavily, like a minimum wage and dealing with the downtime that workers have,” he said.

Wynne noted that in British Columbia employers pay for workers’ compensation and the platform companies “are likely not going to be excited about that.”

“They pay premiums like in an insurance plan, so that is an additional expense they would probably like to avoid,” he said. “True contractors would pay their own premiums, so that is going to be a trickier thing where a balance needs to be found by the government.”

Comments on the discussion paper can be sent via email to The consultation ends Sept. 30.

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