The Ontario Legislature has introduced Bill 109: the
Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015,
(the "ELSLAA") which, if passed, will amend
three separate acts impacting workers and labour relations in
Ontario: the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the
Public Sector Labour Relations Act, and the Fire
Prevention and Protection Act.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA)
Proposed amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance
Act potentially increase the amount of survivor benefits paid
out under the compensation regime. Instead of being limited to
statutory minimums, the survivor benefit calculation would be based
on the average earnings of the deceased worker's occupation at
the time of diagnosis. The proposed amendments would also bolster
worker protection against employer interference and reprisals in
the claim filing and the claim management process. In line with
these changes, the maximum fine against corporate employers for a
conviction under the WSIA would quintuple to $500,000.
The Public Sector Labour Relations Act (PSLRA)
The government has proposed changes to the PSLRA in an
effort to reduce potential disruption in the broader public sector
when there are changes to bargaining units following a
restructuring or amalgamation. In brief, the amendments provide
that a vote to determine a new bargaining unit is not required if a
"prescribed percentage" of employees in the bargaining
unit were previously represented by a single union. It is not clear
at the moment what the exact "prescribed percentage"
would be, but it must be greater than sixty percent.
The Fire Prevention and Protection Act (FPPA)
In its press release dated May 28, 2015, the Ontario government
described its objective in amending the FPPA as follows:
"[To] provide more dispute resolution tools for the
professional fire services sector by allowing labour relations
disputes to be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board as
opposed to the Ontario Courts." With respect, the proposed
amendments are broader than this. Significant elements of the
Labour Relations Act (LRA) would be incorporated into the
FPPA. Mirroring the unfair labour practice provisions of
the LRA, the amendments would explicitly prevent employers
from interfering with the collective bargaining rights of
Firefighter Associations. Similarly, employers would be explicitly
prohibited from threatening or intimidating employees who were
exercising their rights under the FPPA. The amendments
would also protect Firefighter Associations' right to bargain
for superior union security in their collective agreements, such as
clauses related to the mandatory payment of union dues and
"closed shop" provisions. The amendments would also grant
the Ontario Labour Relations Board jurisdiction to hear labour
disputes and would create an expedited arbitration mechanism much
like section 49 of the LRA.
In addition, the amendments address (somewhat) the job security
of firefighters who may run afoul of their Firefighter
Associations. To this end, the amendments provide some job
protection for firefighters who engage in "reasonable activity
against" or "reasonable dissent within" a
Firefighter Association and who are denied membership, or are
expelled/suspended as a result.
Miller Thomson will continue to monitor the progress of Bill 109
as it moves through the Legislature.
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 Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
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.
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.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).