Canada: Ontario Inching Closer To Significant Employment And Labour Changes

Last Updated: September 25 2017
Article by Christian Paquette and Julia Robinson

On June 1, 2017, the Ontario government introduced Bill 148 before the Legislative Assembly. It proposes significant changes to the province's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). The changes are the result of public consultations and the work of Special Advisors appointed by the government. Bill 148 is moving at lightning speed and is now already in the hands of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Following a brief public consultation period this summer, further amendments were proposed by the Committee in late August.

The most significant of the anticipated legislative changes are outlined below. Identified in italic are the additional Aug. 21 amendments.

Proposed Changes to Employment Standards

Increased minimum wage

With few exceptions, the minimum wage will be raised to $14/hour as of 2018, and to $15/hour as of 2019, making Ontario the most generous province in that regard alongside Alberta. Wages would continue to increase with inflation.

Equal pay for equal work for casual, part-time, temporary & seasonal employees

These changes aim to ensure not only that these employees receive the same salary as their full-time coworkers (with some exceptions such as seniority), but that they also be able to ascertain this by requesting a review of their salary if they believe they don't, without fear of reprisal.

Temporary help agency (THA) employees would be entitled to both the same wages as their permanent counterparts and to notice of termination (or pay in lieu) of one week if their assignment is scheduled to last more than three months.

Amendments were introduced to clarify the seniority exception so as to allow for a system based on accumulated hours worked to justify a wage differential.

Scheduling rights

Employees would be entitled to request schedule or location changes after three months of service. Employers are not required to accept – the amendment aims to protect employees making such requests against reprisals.

Employees will have the right to refuse shift work or "on call" work presented to them with less than 96 hours of notice. Exceptions were introduced for requests to "deal with an emergency," to 'reduce a threat to public safety" or "for such other reasons as may be prescribed" by regulation. A dialogue with some sector-specific employers could lead to regulation meant to lessen the impact of these changes.

Employees with shifts cancelled in less than 48 hours or employees reporting to work only to work less than three hours (where they normally work more than that) will be entitled to three hours of pay.

"On call" employees who are ultimately not called into work would also be entitled to three hours of pay per 24-hour period.

Employee misclassification as contractors

Employers faced with a dispute on the classification of a contractor will now have the burden of proving the individual is not an employee. Employers who fail to do so could now be faced with prosecution, public disclosure of a conviction and fines.

The legislative amendments, slated to come into force on Jan. 1, 2018, will no doubt cause employers to think carefully before engaging contractors.

Facilitated joint liability of related businesses

As of Jan. 1, 2018, it will now be easier to take action against a related business for the ESA violation of another business. The current criteria of "intent or effect" of defeating the ESA will be eliminated, making it easier to collect monies from third-party related businesses.

Increased paid vacation

Come Jan. 1, 2018, Ontario will now join those very few Canadian jurisdictions that offer more generous vacation entitlements: employees will be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after five years of service.

Paid emergency leave

All employers will be required to grant 10 days of personal emergency leave days to employees, regardless of the size of their workforces. Significantly, two of these personal emergency days must now be paid and employers will no longer be allowed to request sick notes from qualified health practitioners but can still require employees to provide "reasonable evidence" in that regard.

Extended family medical leaves

The leave, used to provide support or care to dying family members, would be increased to 27 weeks in a 52-week period as of Jan. 1, 2018.

Domestic or sexual violence leave

A new domestic or sexual violence leave without pay of up to ten days and 15 weeks per year would be created, with specific purposes outlined in the legislation. The employee would have the option of either taking weeks of leave or days of leave, as appropriate in the circumstances.

Extended parental leave

The period of parental leave would be extended from 35 weeks (if the employee also took a pregnancy leave) to 61 weeks and from 37 weeks (if the employee did not take a pregnancy leave) to 63 weeks. This amendment is consistent with recent changes to the federal Employment Insurance Act that have not yet come into force.

Focus on enforcement

Various measures are anticipated in connection with enforcement of the legislation. Notably, increased penalties for non-compliance and facilitated wage collection, whether by the government or an authorized collector.

Beyond these legislative amendments, the government has also signalled its intention to invest heavily in enforcement of the ESA by hiring up to 175 ESA officers who are responsible, notably, for conducting workplace audits and investigating complaints.

Ontario's Ministry of Labour has also announced its intention, as part of this overhaul, to conduct a more fulsome review of various ESA exemptions and special industry rules as early as this fall. This review would include exemptions in place for managers and supervisors.

Proposed Changes to the Labour Relations Act

Return to card-based union certification model

Certification will now be card-based in specific industries: the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector, and the home care and community services industry.

As noted by the Special Advisors, card-based certification outcomes are dramatically better for unions and these changes will presumably have a significant impact in these workplaces.

Facilitating automatic certification

Unions can now be more easily certified when an employer violates the LRA.

First contract arbitration

The amendments aim to make first contract arbitration more accessible, along with mediation. 

Access to employee lists and contact information

A union will now be able to file an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to have access to an employee list. If the OLRB is satisfied that the union has garnered the support of 20 per cent of employees it will have a right to access employee lists. This list must include the name of each employee in the proposed bargaining unit, phone number and personal email if it was provided to the employer.

If they disagree with the union's employee estimate, employers will be required to provide a statutory declaration setting out the number of individuals that may reasonably be included in the proposed bargaining unit.

The change will facilitate unionizing, as unions will now know how many ballots they need to file for an application or to win a vote.

Bargaining unit structure where multiple units

Similar to the federal sector and of interest to employers, the OLRB will be empowered to change the structure of bargaining units where they are no longer appropriate, and to consolidate newly certified bargaining units under a single employer after the filing of an application by employers or unions.

Enhanced protection regarding lawful strikes/lockouts and just cause

The current six-month limitation for a right to return to work after a legal strike or lockout would be removed.

Equally significant is the requirement for employers to prove just cause when disciplining or firing an employee from the date employees are in the position of a lawful strike/lockout until a first collective agreement is reached, as well as during the period between certification and conclusion of a first contract.

What's Next

Bill 148 will continue to make its way in the Legislative Assembly this fall. It is likely that this version of the Bill will become law, given the government's majority and the speed at which it has been moving. However, further amendments are not impossible and employers should therefore continue to monitor this matter closely.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Stringer LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Stringer LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions