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Independent operators to be targeted

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by Daily Commercial News

The Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) is taking aim at independent operators in its continuing research into the underground economy.

ETOBICOKE

The Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) is taking aim at independent operators in its continuing research into the underground economy.

In a statement released Monday, OCS says it will review and update its estimates of the size of the underground economy in construction and the value of revenue lost to governments.

While OCS maintains that many self-employed workers are legitimate, for underground workers, self-employment facilitates income concealment and masks an employment relationship as a contract-for-service.

“It is important to distinguish between those self-employed who employ paid help to work alongside them and those who are purely ‘independent operators’ — meaning they do not employ anyone to work with them,” the OCS statement says. “The number of ‘independent operators’ has ballooned from 34,000 to 82,000, whereas those self-employed construction workers who employed paid help increased modestly from 41,000 to 50,000 over the same time period.”

The OCS says independent operators must be “reined in” to ensure the competitive value of the legitimate construction industry is maintained.

“OCS and its labour and management partners have previously advocated for closing the independent operator loop-hole by removing the exemption for independent operators through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act,” the statement reads. “Although the government has explored this possibility, there has been no formal commitment to proceed. The competitive survival of the legitimate construction industry depends on an effective solution.”

DCN NEWS SERVICES

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