Canada: Bill 148 Receives Royal Assent, Significantly Altering Labour And Employment Laws In Ontario

Last Updated: November 30 2017
Article by Caitlin Russell

On November 27, 2017, Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, received Royal Assent. Bill 148 makes significant amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA), Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the LRA), and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Certain amendments under Bill 148 will come into force effective immediately, with other amendments coming into force on December 3, 2017, January 1, 2018, and throughout 2018 and 2019.


Bill 148 was first introduced on June 1, 2017, in response to the recommendations of the Special Advisors in the Final Report of the Changing Workplaces Review (the Review). The goal of the Review was to address changes imposed by globalization, the increased use of technology, growth in the service sector and trade liberalization. The Review focused on addressing the increased use of temporary work, the misuse of independent contractors and the lack of predictability and structure in employment scheduling.

Since its introduction earlier this year, we have tracked the progress of Bill 148 through the Legislative Assembly. For further background on Bill 148, see our posts on the Changing Workplace Review, the initial proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, changes to Bill 148 following the first review by the Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, and passage of Bill 148 after its second reading.

Prior to the third reading, Bill 148 underwent further changes. An overview of the final, and most significant amendments to the ESA, LRA and OHSA, along with implementation dates, are outlined below.

Changes to the ESA

  1. Minimum Wage: The general minimum wage will increase to $14.00 per hour as of January 1, 2018, and then $15.00 an hour on January 1, 2019.
  2. Vacation and Statutory Holidays: Effective January 1, 2018: 

    1. Paid vacation will increase to 3 weeks per year after 5 years of service.
    2.  A new formula for calculating holiday pay will be implemented entitling an employee to holiday pay based on the wages paid to the employee in the pay period prior to the holiday, divided by the days worked in that period. The new formula will result in an increased entitlement for certain employees.
  3. Equal Pay for Equal Work: Effective April 1, 2018, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers will be entitled to be paid equally to full-time employees when performing "substantially the same" job for the same employer. A distinction in rate of pay will only be permitted based on (a) a seniority system, (b) a merit system, (c) quantity or quality of production or (d) some other objective factor. This provision will also give employees the right to request that the employer review their wages if they believe they are not receiving equal pay for equal work and would protect those employees from reprisal if they inquire about their own wage rate or the wages paid to other employees.
  4. Scheduling Changes: Effective January 1, 2019:

    1. Employees will have the right to request schedule or location changes after 3 months of employment.
    2. Employees can refuse shift assignments without repercussions if the employer assigns the shift on less than 96 hours of notice.
    3. Employees will be entitled to "wages for three hours" upon reporting for work and working less than 3 hours, as well as if their shift is cancelled on less than 48 hours of notice or if they are asked to be on-call. "Wages for three hours" is now defined as the greater of (a) 3 hours of pay at the employee's regular rate; or (b) the sum of (i) the amount that the employee earned while working, plus (ii) the remaining time calculated at the employee's regular rate. The "on call" rule will not apply to employees performing essential public services.
    4. Employers will be required to keep records of the dates and times employees were scheduled to work or be on call and any changes made to the schedule.
  5. Independent Contractors: Effective immediately, employers will be explicitly prohibited from "misclassifying" employees as independent contractors and could be subject to prosecution and potentially monetary penalties as well as conviction under the ESA. In the event of a dispute regarding an individual's employment status, employers will bear the onus of proving that the individual is not an employee.
  6. Leaves of Absence:

    1. Expanded Personal Emergency Leave -  Employers of all sizes will need to provide 10 days of personal emergency leave and 2 of those days must be paid. Employers are prohibited from requiring that an employee provide a doctor's note to support a personal emergency leave. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
    2. Extended Family Medical Leave - Family Medical Leave will increase from 8 weeks to up to 28 weeks in a 52 week period to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
    3. Extended Pregnancy Leave - Pregnancy leave will be increased for employees who experience a still birth or miscarriage from 6 to 12 weeks. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
    4. Extended Parental Leave – Parental leave will be extended from 35 weeks to 61 weeks for employees who have taken a pregnancy leave, and from 37 weeks to 63 weeks for employees who have not. The new leave is effective December 3, 2017.
    5. New Child Death Leave – In place of the previous Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave, employees will be entitled to a leave of up to 104 weeks  following the death of a child, regardless of whether the death was crime-related. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
    6. Extended Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave - Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave will increase from 52 weeks to 104 weeks. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
    7. New Critical Illness Leave –  In place of the previous "Critically Ill Child Care Leave", employees will be entitled to: (i) a leave of up to 37 weeks in a 52-week period for an employee to provide care or support to a critically ill minor child who is a family member of the employee; and (ii) a leave of up to 17 weeks in a 52-week period for an employee to provide care or support to a critically ill adult who is a family member. The new leave is effective December 3, 2017.
    8. New Paid Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave – Employees will be entitled to a leave of absence where the employee or the employee's child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of sexual or domestic violence. The new leave will be structured as a dual entitlement. In each calendar year, an employee may take up to 10 days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave. The first 5 days of the leave will be paid with "domestic or sexual violence leave pay" which will generally be equal to the wages that the employee would have earned had they not taken the leave. The new leave is effective January 1, 2018.
  7. Enforcement: Effective January 1, 2018:

    1. Employees will no longer have to show that they attempted to resolve their issue with their employer before proceeding with a complaint under the ESA.
    2. Penalties for violations under the ESA will increase and the Director of Employment Standards will be allowed to publish the names of individuals who have been issued a penalty, along with a description of the circumstances leading to the penalty and the amount of the fine.
    3. Employment Standards Officers will be able to award interest on unpaid wages.

Changes to the LRA

Every amendment to the LRA will come into force on January 1, 2018.

  1. Card Based Certification in Specified Industries: A card-based union certification process will be introduced for workers in the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector, and the home care and community services industry.
  2. Secret Ballot Certification: Amendments will be made to the current secret ballot certification process, including the following:

    1. Certain conditions required for the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the OLRB) to order remedial union certification where an employer is found to have engaged in misconduct will be eliminated, allowing unions to obtain certification more easily in such cases.
    2. Access to first contract arbitration would be made easier, and an "intensive mediation component" will be added to the first contract arbitration process.
    3. Unions will be provided with access to employee lists and employee contact information in cases where the union can demonstrate that it has garnered support from 20% of the employees involved. Disclosure of an employee's name, phone number and personal email will be mandatory. The OLRB will also have discretion to order the disclosure of other information, including job titles, business address and other means of contacting the employee.
    4. The OLRB will be empowered to conduct votes outside of the workplace, including electronic and telephone voting.
  3. New Successor Rights Provisions: The successor rights provisions will be applied to the retendering of building services contracts. In addition, Bill 148 will enable the government to enact regulations applying the successor rights provisions to the retendering of other publicly-funded contracted services.
  4. OLRB Powers: The OLRB will be provided with the authority to: (a) change bargaining unit structures within a single employer, where the existing bargaining units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining; and (b) consolidate newly certified bargaining units with other existing bargaining units represented by the same bargaining agent, under a single employer.
  5. Right of Striking Employees to Return to Work: The six-month limitation on an employee's right to be reinstated at the conclusion of a legal strike or lock-out will be removed. An employee would have the right to reinstatement at the conclusion of a legal strike or lock-out (subject to certain conditions), and the legislation will provide access to grievance arbitration with respect to that right.
  6. Added Just Cause Protection: Protects employees from discharge or discipline without just cause during the period between certification and the conclusion of a first collective agreement, and between the date employees are in a legal strike or lock-out position and the new collective agreement.
  7. Expanded Remedial Powers and Fines: Maximum fines under the LRA will increase from $2,000 to $5,000 for individuals, and from $25,000 to $100,000 for organizations.

Changes to the OHSA

Effective immediately, employers will be prohibited from requiring a worker to wear footwear with an elevated heel unless it is required to perform the work safely. Workers employed as performers in the entertainment and advertising industry will be exempted from this change.

Take Away

Bill 148 will require Ontario employers to undertake a review of their employment policies and practices to ensure they are compliant with the portions of Bill 148 that are taking effect immediately and in the next few weeks. We also recommend that employers begin to prepare now for the scheduling changes, which are effective January 2019.

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

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Caitlin Russell
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
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).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions