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Ontario Liberal leadership contender Steven Del Duca is proposing the creation of a basic group benefits package for workers in the province who are currently without one.

As part of his so-called Economic Dignity Charter, the former Member of Provincial Parliament for Vaughan promised to create a portable, government-backed benefits program for the self-employed, contract employees and people employed by small businesses.

“Economic dignity should not be reserved for the lucky few,” said Del Duca in a press release. “Basic workplace benefits and training opportunities are needed more than ever before and government has a responsibility to lead.”

Read: Canada’s growing gig workforce highlights need for portable benefits plan: report

Citing a 2015 study by health policy think-tank the Wellesley Institute, Del Duca said one-third of Ontario workers don’t have employer-provided medical and dental benefits. Fewer than one in five people who earned less than $10,000 received benefits through their employer, in comparison with 90 per cent of people earning more than $100,000.

The proposed charter would also amend the provincial Employment Standards Act to set a $15 per hour minimum wage and tie future wage increases to inflation and other economic indicators.

Del Duca also wants to implement training and retraining initiatives to “align education to job opportunities in order to ensure that Ontario’s talent pool remains its greatest competitive advantage.”

The Ontario Liberal Party is slated to pick its next leader in March 2020.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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