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19 December 2018
On 21 November 2018 the Ontario Legislative Assembly passed Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act 2018.(1) The original Bill 47 passed with few amendments. The most notable change that was made before passing was that the member of provincial parliament on the committee overseeing Bill 47 removed a proposed new power for the Ontario Labour Relations Board to amend bargaining units where those bargaining units were no longer appropriate for collective bargaining.
The lieutenant governor of Ontario gave royal assent to Bill 47 on its passing. As a result, the changes to the Labour Relations Act 1995 introduced by Bill 47 came into effect on 21 November 2018 and the changes to the Employment Standards Act 2000 will come into effect on 1 January 2019. Legal advice should be sought by those subject to current applications before the Ontario Labour Relations Board for:
In addition to passing Bill 47 the provincial government filed new regulations on 24 October 2018 which will result in the penalties for contravening the posting and record-keeping requirements of the Employment Standards Act 2000 being decreased on 1 January 2019 from:
The government is also soliciting further input on proposed new employment regulations.
On 15 November 2018 the government delivered its Fall Economic Statement (FES), which is an annual tradition. On the same day Bill 57, the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act 2018, was introduced in the Legislative Assembly in order to implement several of the initiatives that had been announced in the FES.
Outlined in the 2018 FES were several initiatives and pledges by the new government which will be of interest to Ontario employers. The initiatives are outlined below.
Pay Transparency Act
This initiative involves changing the implementation date for the Pay Transparency Act from 1 January 2019 to an indefinite date to be chosen by the government. Some of the features in the Pay Transparency Act were set to take effect on 1 January 2019, including requirements that:
The change to the Pay Transparency Act implementation date is part of the omnibus Bill 57 and is expected to become law prior to the Legislative Assembly's 2018 December holiday break.
For those familiar with the machinations at Queens Park, making such a change to the Pay Transparency Act likely indicates that the new government is not interested in having the Pay Transparency Act come into force at all.
Fire Protection and Prevention Act
This initiative involves changing the Fire Protection and Prevention Act 1997 through Bill 57 by:
Given that the current Fire Protection and Prevention Act closely resembles interesting arbitration legislation for other sectors (eg, police and healthcare) this change could serve as a model for significant future changes in those sectors as well.
This initiative involves exempting all employees of the Crown, of Crown agencies, or of an authority, board, commission or corporation whose members are appointed by the Crown, from the hours of work and overtime provisions of the Employment Standards Act 2000. Prior to announcing this initiative in the FES, the government of Ontario had already put this feature into law by filing unannounced regulations exempting Crown employees from these provisions which has been effective from 24 October 2018.
Employment Standards Act
This initiative involves exempting Ontario Hockey League players from the requirements of the Employment Standards Act 2000. The new provincial government has already acted on this commitment, putting in to place a standalone regulation which exempts "a player on a major junior ice hockey team" from the Employment Standards Act if the player is eligible to receive a scholarship from the player's team or league for post-secondary education "for each hockey season the player plays". There are no other parameters set for the scholarship's conditions, nor is there a required value for any scholarship.
Employer health tax
This initiative involves increasing the employer health tax exemption level from the first C$450,000 in payroll up to the first C$490,000 in payroll.
This initiative involves launching a review of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The details of this review are still unclear.
This initiative involves reviewing all tribunals under the purview of the Ministry of the Attorney General, including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Details of this review are still unclear.
This initiative involves assisting the university sector to establish jointly sponsored pension plans.
This initiative involves affirming that children under the age of 25 with private drug plan coverage will be exempt from the government's OHIP+ prescription coverage. Given that the government of Ontario's OHIP+ plan will cover those under 25-years-old without coverage, employers may wish to review any ongoing prescription coverage for employees' dependent children to see whether this is still necessary.
Alcohol and cannabis sales
This initiative involves extending alcohol and cannabis sales to private retailers, which will require additional staff training.
The new provincial government has been active in reshaping provincial employment and labour laws and responsibilities, and their progress; new initiatives will continue to be monitored.
For further information on this topic please contact Marc Rodrigue at Fasken Martineau by telephone (+1 416 366 8381) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Fasken Martineau website can be accessed at www.fasken.com.
(1) Some of the main features of Bill 47 in Bill 148 Update: New Regulations and Bill 47 Public Consultations Announced were previously outlined.
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