The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
For the 69,000 licensed security guards in Ontario, the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence.
While guards in Manitoba and Quebec are guaranteed a minimum wage higher than the average worker, the Ontario Ministry of Labour has no plans to introduce a similar pay scale.
“The Employment Standards Act does not generally prescribe different minimum wage rates for different occupations, such as security guards,” said William Lin, a Ministry of Labour spokesperson, in an email.
Lin added that there were no plans to review this practice, as “no comments on this issue were received during the Changing Workplaces Review.”
That review has finished, but the interim report scheduled for early 2016 has not been released.
For guards like Derek Tadeson, 29, of Beamsville, a mandatory minimum wage would be a step in the right direction.
“If you’re working events such as football games and high-profile concerts, it is more physical and can be dangerous,” said Tadeson. “All around, you’re usually not getting enough for what you’re doing.”
Quebec’s minimum wage is currently $10.55 and a licensed security guard is entitled to $15.66, while workers and guards alike in Ontario earn a minimum of $11.25 per hour.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 333, the largest union representing security guards in Ontario, started a petition in 2013 to raise the minimum wage for security guards to $15.
The petition says security guards are being unfairly “expected to pay costs associated with being a profession” but guards “are not paid as professionals.”
The Private Security and Investigative Services Act was passed in 2005 and has required all those wishing to become guards in Ontario since 2010 to complete training and testing before applying for licenses.
Local 333 says the costs prospective guards face total nearly $600 before they can begin working.
There are a total of 782 licensed security agencies in Ontario and 485 registered businesses that can hire in-house security.