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Ontario considers big changes to Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act

employment standardsFor the first time in over 20 years, the Province of Ontario has commissioned an independent report to review both the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act. The CBC reported on May 12, 2017, in an online article written by Mike Crawley entitled “Ontario to Consider Boosting Minimum Wage to $15, increasing Paid Sick Days”, that the final report will be made public after Victoria Day at which time its recommendations will be reviewed by Cabinet and reforms would be announced.

Ontario commissioned the Changing Workplace Review to review what is known as precarious employment and other impacts of non–standard employment and changes in the economy were having on individuals. The Ministry of Labour states that non–standard employment includes involuntary part–time, temporary, self–employment and multiple job holders, has grown at two times the rate since 1997.

While the final version of the Changing Workplace Review report is still not available to the public, the 300+ page Interim Report can be found on the Ministry of Labour’s website here. The interim report identified numerous areas that the provincial government is considering altering under existing legislation.

Once the Liberal government announces its plans, we can expect that there could be significant changes to the regulatory regime in the Province.

Employment Standards Act

The Interim Report suggested changes in the following areas:

  • Enlarging the definition of “employee” to include more people to directly address the issue of precarious and non–standard employment and bring more people within the protections of the legislation.
  • Expanding the scope of the definition of “employer” to attach to more organizations, companies and contractors.
  • Reexamining the exemptions that apply to the legislation including those applicable to managers/supervisors, information technology professionals and others.
  • Examining the rules on interns and trainees.
  • Examining vacation pay and potentially increasing the minimum to 3 weeks.
  • Examining paid sick leave.
  • Ensuring that temporary, part–time and casual employees are paid the same as full–time employees.
  • Examining the amounts paid on termination.
  • Reviewing individual agreements and the minimum legislation.
  • Examining the powers to enforce the legislation.

Labour Relations Act

The Interim Report suggested changes in the following areas:

  • Expanding scope of who can collectively bargain.
  • Changing procedures for certification.
  • Changing remedial certification.
  • New rules for first contracts and arbitration.
  • Changing rules on successorship.
  • When to allow striking workers to return to work.
  • Powers of the OLRB on interim orders and expedited hearings.
  • Powers to enforce the legislation.
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Simon Heath

Employment Lawyer and principal at Heath Law, Employment Lawyers
Simon Heath, BA, MIR, LLB, is the Principal of Heath Law, Employment Lawyers in Mississauga, Ontario. Simon represents both public and private-sector employers and employees (unionized and non-unionized) at all stages of the employment relationship with a focus in the areas of employment law, labour law and human rights law; these representations are made at all levels of courts and all administrative tribunals. Read more
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