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Going, Going, (Mostly) Gone: Ontario Conservative Government Announces Targeted Rollback of Bill 148 Amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act

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Earlier today, Premier Doug Ford followed through on his promise to revisit the previous Liberal government’s labour reforms by introducing legislation that eliminates many of the most controversial aspects of Bill 148. The changes include:

  • Minimum wage increase to $15.00/hr effective January 1, 2019 is cancelled – the existing minimum wage of $14.00/hr will be maintained and will be re-indexed starting in October 2020;
  • 2 paid emergency leave days will be removed – personal emergency leave days will now be 8 days consisting of up to three days for personal illness, two days for bereavement, and three days for family responsibilities;
  • The ban on employers requesting doctor’s notes is removed – employers will be able to ask for reasonable evidence from qualified health practitioners in support of an employee’s request for personal emergency leave days;
  • Equal pay for equal work will be removed, on the basis of employment status and assignment employee status. However, the requirement for equal pay on the basis of sex will be maintained.
  • The new scheduling and on-call provisions will be revoked;
  • The reverse onus provision regarding independent contractors will be revoked;
  • The expansion of the automatic card based certification for industries outside of construction will be revoked;
  • The 20% threshold for unions to apply for employee information is gone;
  • The new first contract arbitration provisions will be reversed; and
  • The doubling of fines under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 will be reversed.

That said, the new legislation preserves employees’ entitlements to the previously announced enhanced vacation benefits as well as the new leaves of absence (i.e. Child Death and Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave).

These changes are likely to be welcomed by employers across the province. In particular, the return to the pre-Bill 148 position on personal emergency leave and scheduling will eliminate a great amount of uncertainty amongst employers. We will be following the progress of this legislation closely and will be providing regular updates as the Bill progresses.