On May 30th 2017 the Government of Ontario announced sweeping changes to Ontario’s employment and labour laws. The Dufferin Board of Trade and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have been vocal opponents of many of the reforms maintaining that they tip the economic balance in a profoundly negative way. These sweeping changes have the potential to negatively impact youth employment, job creation, economic growth, consumer prices, and the very existence of many small businesses who are far less resilient to the impact of these reforms, especially with regards to the minimum wage hike.
These changes will have compounding costs which the government has not yet fully understood. That is why we have called on the government to conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis. This analysis should have clear acceptability thresholds, and the reforms implemented should be limited to those that pass such thresholds or are being implemented with a commensurate economic offset measure, in order to help businesses transition into any regulatory changes. An economic impact analysis is the only way that the Government of Ontario can protect jobs and workers against the unintended consequences that may come as a result of implementing the reforms announced and the recommendations in the Changing Workplaces Review.
The Dufferin Board of Trade and the entirety of the chamber network of Ontario has stood up for businesses and voiced their concerns:
Letter to Premier Wynne – May 15th 2017
We have also reached out to our members to hear how these reforms will affect their business.
Now that these reforms have been officially announced we must work cooperatively with government to identify the scale of the economic impact of these changes and help employers transition into any new policy regime. We will continue to be cooperative partners with government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Keep Ontario Working Coalition to find solutions that will, where possible, inhibit negative impacts on the growth of Ontario’s economy, our people, and our communities.
Key Points for Business
The Government of Ontario announced that they will raise Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.
Personal Emergency Leave & Paid Sick Days
The government announced that all workers would be given 10 personal emergency leave days a year, and a minimum of two of those days must be paid. Currently, personal emergency leave is mandatory only from employers with 50 or more employees, and can be used for illness, injury, or urgent matters, such as the employee’s babysitter calling in sick.
The government announced that after five years with the same employer, the minimum vacation entitlement for workers would rise to three weeks per year.
The government announced that employers would be required to pay a worker three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with less than 48 hours notice. In addition:
- Employees can refuse to accept shifts without repercussion if their employer asks them to work with less than four days’ notice.
- When employees are “on-call” and not called in to work, they must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay. This would be required for each 24 hour period that employees are on-call.
- If a collective agreement is made between an employer an employer and a union, the agreement would prevail in place of some of these new rules.
The proposed legislation would ensure Temporary Help Agency (THA) employees (assignment workers) are paid equally to permanent employees of the THA client when performing the same job. The proposed changes would protect assignment employees from repercussions for inquiring about their wage rate or the wage rate of an employee of the client.
Measures to Increase Unionization
The proposed legislation would establish card-based union certification for the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector and home care and community services industry. It would also take the following changes to the union certification process:
- Eliminating certain conditions for remedial union certification, allowing unions to more easily get certified when an employer engages in misconduct that contravenes the LRA
- Making access to first contract arbitration easier, and also adding an intensive mediation component to the process.
- Requiring the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to address first contract mediation-arbitration applications before dealing with displacement and decertification applications
- Allow unions to access employee lists and certain contact information, provided the union can demonstrate that it has already achieved the support of 20 per cent of employees involved
- Expressly empower the OLRB to conduct votes outside the workplace, including electronically and by telephone
- Empower the OLRB to authorize Labour Relations Officers to give directions relating to the voting process and voting arrangements in order to help assure the neutrality of the voting process
Read all of the proposed changes to Ontario’s employment and labour laws here