The Interim Report kicks off the next phase of the
province-wide consultation on modernizing Ontario's Employment
Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995. Employers
should note that August 31, 2016 is the deadline
for submissions on the Personal Emergency Leave provisions of the
ESA and October 14, 2016 is the deadline for all
Just over a year ago, we wrote about the public consultations that
were taking place as part of the Ontario Ministry of Labour's
("MOL") Changing Workplaces Review. This review is part
of the MOL's broader mandate to modernize employment and labour
laws in an effort to strengthen protections for "vulnerable
and precarious" workers and, as we are constantly being
reminded, support businesses in today's evolving economy.
Specifically, the review sought input on changes to Ontario's
Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA") and
the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the "LRA").
Yesterday, the MOL released the much anticipated Interim Report. While the initial public
consultation attracted broad and significant interest from
interested parties, particularly unions and employee rights
activists (who provided the lion's share of submissions), the
Interim Report was released to focus the multiplicity of issues and
spur further stakeholder involvement. It is clear that the Special
Advisors who authored the Interim Report were concerned that not
all interested parties had made submissions nor even understood the
scope and impact of the outcomes. The Interim Report seeks to
ensure that no one is taken by surprise by the process or by
recommendations that may ultimately flow from the review.
Exceeding 300 pages in length, the Interim Report is premised on
the theory that vulnerable workers and precarious employment exists
in Ontario and is a problem that needs to be addressed. The Interim
Report contains no specific recommendations. Nor it is judgmental.
Rather it reads like an anthology of modernization options. It
summarizes the current law, recounts generally the submissions
received through the consultation process and sets outs various
options for reform based on the consultation process, academic
research, approaches in other jurisdictions (both within Canada and
abroad) and the authors own thinking. All of this is presented
through the lens of protecting vulnerable workers and enhancing
business competition in a globalized and changing economy.
The Interim Report is divided into two parts. The first part
addresses LRA reform. Most of the options in this section orient
towards increasing unionization rates whether through relaxing
certification rules, allowing organizing or consolidation of
bargaining units on by industry sector or geography, or adding more
severe consequences to employer misconduct. This is not surprising
because the unions dominated the volume of submissions during the
consultation process, proposing a wide array of reforms. The
employer community was quieter on the LRA and most submissions
simply advocated for status quo. The second part deals with the
ESA. Here, every section of the ESA is addressed in one way or
another. The sheer spectrum of options presented in the Interim
Report on ESA reform – some of which are extremely creative
– is mind-boggling. The Special Advisors certainly showed
great skill, fortitude, patience and detailed thought in this
It is important to repeat that this Interim Report does not
contain any proposal or recommendation. Ultimately that is what the
review process will conclude with, but it will be up to the Ontario
Government to pass any reform measures. Given the magnitude of the
Changing Workplaces Review, there is an inevitability to
significant changes being made to Ontario's ESA and LRA, if not
a total overhaul (with the exception of the LRA construction
sections which were not under review)
Employers who wish to provide feedback on the Interim Report can
do so via e-mail or regular mail and should note the
August 31, 2016
– Submissions on the Personal Emergency Leave
provisions under the ESA are due.
October 14, 2016
– Submissions on all other subjects in the Interim Report are
We are in the process of reviewing the Interim Report in detail
and will be providing further updates on the Changing Workplace
Review as it progresses. In the interim, if you have any questions
regarding the Changing Workplaces Review or on how your
organization can make submissions, do not hesitate to contact
anyone in our Labour and Employment Law Group in Ontario.
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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