Last year the Ontario government initiated the Changing
Workplace Review, which it intends as the first step towards
identifying potential reforms of the Employment Standards Act,
2000 (the "ESA") and the Labour Relations Act,
1995 (the "LRA") to better protect workers, while
supporting businesses in our changing economy. Two
government-appointed Special Advisors are responsible for carrying
out public consultations and preparing an interim report and a
final report, with recommendations to the Minister of Labour in
relation to both the LRA and the ESA.
On July 27, 2016, the Minister of Labour released
the much-anticipated Interim Report, which is based on 12 days
of initial public consultation, over 300 written submissions from a
variety of stakeholders including employer, labour,
employee-advocacy and other groups and individuals, and research
papers commissioned by the Review itself. In the
Interim Report, the Special Advisors consider the changing nature
of the workforce, the workplace and the economy itself,
particularly in light of relevant trends and pressures including,
the increase in temporary jobs, part-time work and self-employment;
the rising prominence of service sector; the effects of
globalization and trade liberalization; and accelerating
technological change. They conclude that these various trends and
pressures on the workplace "highlight the need for reform of
employment standards and labour relations legislation, and
especially to provide protection to vulnerable workers and those in
precarious work situations."
The Interim Report identifies approximately 50 issues affecting
Ontario's workplaces and over 225 options of varying size and
scope for addressing these issues in the LRA and ESA, including,
for each issue, the option of maintaining the status quo.
Given the breadth of the Changing Workplace Review and the
number and variety of submissions during the initial consultation
process, the Ontario government has launched a second phase of
public consultations seeking feedback on the Special Advisors'
Interim Report. Following these consultations, the Special Advisors
will provide the government with a final report and recommendations
to help inform changes to modernize Ontario's labour and
Feedback on the Interim Report may be provided via e-mail or
mail-in submissions. Submissions specifically related to the
subject of Personal Emergency Leave must be completed by August 31,
2016. The deadline for submissions on all other issues is
October 14, 2016.
Guide to the Interim Report lists issues canvassed by the
Special Advisors, including issues that have not yet been the
subject of significant public debate or discussion, and gives
additional information about how you can provide input on the
We will be publishing a detailed review of the Interim
Report in the next day or so.
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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.
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