All provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are governed by
the EmploymentStandards Act, 2000 (ESA) and/or
the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA) – two major
bedrocks of labour and employment law in Ontario. The Ontario
Ministry of Labour has just commenced a consultation process/review to
consider reform to this legislation. The consultation
process/review represents a critical opportunity for employers in
Ontario to engage with the Ontario government on key legislation
that has far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on the workplace.
For any employer that has input on those two Acts, now is the time
On May 14, 2015, the Ministry announced the commencement of the
review to consider "what changes can and should be made in the
context of Ontario's labour and employment law regime to
continue to protect works while supporting businesses in
today's changing economy". Two special advisors have been
appointed by the Ontario government to conduct the review: Michael
Mitchell, formerly of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, and the
Honourable John C. Murray, a former justice of the Ontario Superior
Court and prominent management labour lawyer.
The special advisors will determine what changes, if any, should
be made to the legislation, and make recommendations to the
Minister of Labour.
General considerations during the consultation include the
changing nature of the workplace, the workplace itself, and the
economy, including the increase in non-standard employment (e.g.
on-call work, telecommuting, temporary employment, and
"involuntary part-time employment").
The Ministry has released a consultation paper for the
purpose of the review. The paper poses sixteen questions,
In light of the changes in
workplaces, how do you feel about the employment standards that are
currently in the ESA? Do the particular concerns of part-time,
casual and temporary workers need to be addressed, and if so,
Are changes needed to support
business in the modern economy? How could the Act be simplified
while remaining fair and comprehensive? Are there standards in the
ESA that you find too complex? If so, what are they and how could
they be simplified?
Should there be a number of
job-protected sick days and personal emergency days for every
employee? Are there other types of leaves that are not addressed in
the ESA that should be?
In the context of the changing nature
of employment, what do you think about who is and is not covered by
the ESA? What specific changes would you like to see?
As workplaces change, new types of
employment relationships emerge, and if the long term decline in
union representation continues, are new models of work
representation, including potentially other forms of union
representation, needed beyond what is currently provided in the
Are changes required to the LRA with
regard to the ground rules for collective bargaining?
Are there any other issues related to
the topics addressed in the review that you feel need to be
addressed? Are there additional changes, falling with the mandate
of the review, that should be considered?
The review, however, will not consider the construction industry
provisions in the LRA, the minimum wage and any policy discussions
for which other independent processes have been initiated.
Employers in Ontario can provide input to the Ministry through
At one or more of the ten public consulting
meetingsthat have been scheduled to take place at
various locations in the province from June 16, 2015 to September
18, 2015, including Toronto on June 16, 2015 and Ottawa on June 18,
2015. Parties can make a presentation of up to ten minutes at those
public consultation meetings, but have to pre-register to do so,
By email, mail, or fax to the
designated Ministry contacts by September 18,
However, developing and delivering detailed and effective
submissions and/or presentations to the special advisors leading
the review is just the first step. To ensure that the Ontario
government understands the potential impacts of any changes being
made to the ESA and the LRA, it will require business organizations
to effectively advocate their positions beyond the formal
consultation process. This will require effective advocacy on
multiple fronts, including key political advisors, interest groups,
media and senior policy makers.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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