Ontario plans to create a new portable health insurance plan for low-income workers


The province said the idea is to provide benefits to independent contractors, freelancers and young workers

Ontario is looking at ways to implement comprehensive health insurance plans for low-income workers and those working in the gig economy.

The province said it was seeking advice on creating a plan that would provide health, dental and vision care benefits to people even if they have to change jobs frequently.

A provincial news release said the government intended to create and appoint an advisory committee to recommend a system that would make Ontario the first province in Canada to pursue such a comprehensive benefit package.

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said the idea is to put needed benefits within reach of all workers.

“Whether you’re setting tables, making money, or commuting, we’re making sure necessities like affordable dental care and medicine are within reach for more families,” McNaughton said.

“The future of work is here, and our government is working for workers to make sure no one is left behind,” he added.

The province said most workers in Ontario in permanent, full-time jobs have medical and dental coverage. By comparison, less than a quarter of those working part-time or in precarious jobs enjoy similar benefits, meaning these workers and their families often have to make tough choices between their health and other necessities like food and accommodation. Independent contractors, low-wage workers, newcomers, younger workers and racialized people are also less likely to have benefits, the statement said.

the proposed advisory committee examine how the benefits might belong to the worker and provide recommendations on how best to administer the new program. This could be particularly beneficial for workers in digital platforms and gigs, and others in the service sector, who change jobs more frequently, the province said.

Establishing the advisory committee was a key recommendation in the final report of Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. The Committee was responsible for several elements of the government’s recent Working for Workers Act, including being the first province in Canada to introduce the “right to disconnect”, as well as the prohibition of non-competition clauses.

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