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The More Things Change… Ford Government Rolls Back Bill 148

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On November 21, 2018, Bill 47—the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018—received royal assent. Bill 47 makes numerous amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA), and the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009. As outlined earlier, Bill 47 revisits the previous Liberal government’s labour reforms included in Bill 148 and eliminates many of its most controversial aspects.

The effective dates of the changes as outlined in Bill 47 are as follows:

  • The majority of changes with respect to the ESA come into force on January 1, 2019.
  • The changes with respect to the LRA came into force upon royal assent (November 21, 2019).

A summary of some of the significant changes is provided below.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ACT, 2000

  • The scheduled minimum wage increase effective January 1, 2019 is cancelled. The $14.00/hr minimum wage will be maintained and will be re-indexed beginning in October 2020.
  • 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 2 paid personal emergency leave days will be removed. Personal emergency leave days will be provided up to 8 unpaid days consisting of up to 3 days for personal illness, 3 days for family responsibility, and 2 days for bereavement. Employers will not be prohibited from asking for a certificate from a qualified health practitioner as evidence to support the request for personal emergency leave days.
  • For employees who regularly work more than 3 hours per day but attend work and thereafter work less than 3 hours, the employer will be required to pay wages equivalent to 3 hours of pay.
  • The new scheduling and on-call provisions will be revoked.
  • The reverse onus on employers regarding independent contractors will be repealed.

LABOUR RELATIONS ACT, 1995

  • The ability for trade unions to apply, when there is no certified bargaining agent for the employees, for an order requiring an employer to provide the trade union a list of all employees is revoked. Any applications under this section are immediately terminated and trade unions must destroy any employee lists they have received.
  • The Ontario Labour Relations Board is no longer required to certify a trade union for certain employer contraventions of the LRA.
  • The ability of the Ontario Labour Relations Board to review the structure of bargaining units and grant certain orders in certain circumstances is repealed.
  • The expansion of automatic, card-based certification for industries outside of construction is revoked.
  • Educational support in the practice of labour relations and collective bargaining is revoked.
  • The new first contract arbitration provisions are reversed.
  • Collective agreements will now be publically available on the Government of Ontario website.
  • The increase in fines for convictions under the LRA is reversed.
  • New methods of delivering notices and communications under the LRA are contemplated and corresponding presumptions with respect to receipt of these communications are included in the LRA.

Bill 47 did not repeal the increased vacation benefits nor the new leaves of absence (i.e. Child Death and Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave) which were introduced by Bill 148. Nonetheless, employers throughout the province will likely welcome these amendments which will help eliminate some of the uncertainty that was introduced along with Bill 148.

For those interested, the Ontario Minister of Labour, Laurie Scott, will be the keynote speaker at Dentons Canada LLP’s upcoming Labour, Employment and Pensions seminar on Friday, November 30. For more information regarding the seminar, please click here.