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Ontario’s Liberal government introduces employee friendly laws

On November 6, 2014, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 received third reading at the Ontario legislature.

When Bill 18 receives Royal Assent several significant changes will take effect that will benefit employees.

Here are 5 of these changes:

  1. Increased minimum wage. Starting October 1, 2015, the minimum wage will increase each year in an amount equal to the rate of inflation from the prior calendar year. This change will increase labour costs for many employers particularly employers in the retail sector.
  2. Increased monetary orders under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). There will be no limit on the amount of money an Employment Standards Officer can order an employer to pay an employee under the ESA. Currently there is generally a cap of $ 10 000. I anticipate that this will result in more employees filing claims for termination pay and severance pay under the ESA instead of bringing wrongful dismissal actions.
  3. Time limit for filing a complaint under the ESA is extended. An employee will be able to wait for up to 2 years to file a complaint under the ESA. The current limit is 6 months. I anticipate that this will result in more claims being commenced against employers.
  4. Potential double exposure for the cost of temporary workers. Employers who use temporary help agencies will be liable to pay the temporary workers directly if the temporary help agency fails to do so. As a result, every employer should satisfy itself that the temporary help agency it uses is financially stable.
  5. Expanded definition of “Worker” under OHSA. Co-op students, interns and volunteers will be deemed to be a “worker” under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. This means an employer must start, among other things, providing mandatory health and safety training to these individuals. The increased number of “workers” may trigger an obligation to create a joint health & safety committee. This change also means employers can be charged with failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of these workers. Violations of the OHSA can result in fines of up to $ 500 000.
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Doug Macleod

Employment and labour lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm
For the past 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising and representing employers in connection with employee terminations. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at doug@macleodlawfirm.ca. Read more
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