Today, two bills were introduced in the Ontario legislature.
Both have the potential to significantly impact Ontario employers
if they become law.
Bill 146, known as the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger
Economy Act, was introduced by the Ontario government. It
seeks to amend a number of employment laws, including the
Employment Standards Act (the "ESA"), the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (the "WSIA"),
the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the
"OHSA"), the Labour Relations Act (the "LRA")
and the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act
(Live-in Caregivers and Others) (the "EPFNA"). Bill
146 contains the following significant proposals:
Removing the $10,000 cap in the ESA in respect of a claim or
Increasing the limitation period in the ESA for a claim of
unpaid wages to two years from the prior six months (for unpaid
wages) and twelve months (for unpaid vacation pay).
Requiring employers to provide a French and English handout
containing information about rights under the ESA and, if
requested, to provide the handout in one of 23 other languages
prepared by the Ministry of Labour.
Extending the EPFNA protections to all employees who come to
Ontario under an immigration or temporary foreign employee
Making temporary help agencies and their clients "jointly
and severally liable" for unpaid wages under the ESA.
Amending the WSIA to require the Workplace Safety and Insurance
Board to assign workplace injury costs to temporary help agency
clients instead of to the temporary help agencies, when an employee
is injured at work.
Extending coverage under the OHSA to co-op students, trainees
and other unpaid learners.
Decreasing the construction industry's open period to two
months from three months in the LRA
Certain of these proposals, namely the removal of the $10,000
cap under the ESA, are significant for employers. The Ontario
government's backgrounder document can be found here.
Bill 147, known as "An Act to amend the Human Rights
Code with respect to the awarding of costs of
proceedings," was introduced by the opposition
Progressive Conservative party. It seeks to amend the Ontario
Human Rights Code to grant the Tribunal the power to award
legal costs against an unsuccessful party in a matter before the
Tribunal. The potential implications of Bill 147 are enormous given
that, currently, employers bear their own legal costs even in
successfully defending a claim at the Tribunal. Whether the
Tribunal would be motivated to order legal costs against a
self-represented applicant, an applicant with limited means or an
applicant with pro bono legal representation, remains to
We are keeping an eye on both Bills 146 and 147 as they progress
through the legislature. Be on the lookout for future e-Lerts with
updates on these key pieces of legislation and how they will impact
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