Today, October 25, 2021, the Ontario government is introducing legislation with a goal to better protect, support and attract workers to the province. The proposed changes are intended to promote healthy work-life balance and will further enable competitiveness by banning unfair non-compete agreements that are used to restrict work opportunities, suppress salary increases and wage growth. The Ontario government believes these changes will make Ontario the top choice for people around the world to work, live and raise a family. If passed the Working for Workers Act, 2021 will:

  • Require employers to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday to help employees spend more time with their families if the employers have 25 or more employees.
  • Ban the use of non-compete agreements in order to make it easier for workers to advance in their careers by exploring other work opportunities.
  • Help remove barriers, such as Canadian experience requirements, for internationally trained individuals to get licensed in a regulated profession and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills.
  • Protect vulnerable employees from being exploited by requiring recruiters and temporary help agencies to have a license to operate in Ontario.
  • Help delivery drivers, couriers and truck drivers by requiring business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company's washroom if they are delivering or picking up items.
  • Allow surpluses in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's Insurance Fund to be distributed over certain levels to businesses, helping them cope with the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Enable the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to work with entities, like the Canada Revenue Agency, to streamline remittances for businesses, enabling a way to give them an efficient one-stop-shop for submitting premiums and payroll deductions.
  • Allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to collect information related to the agri-food workforce to ensure the government can enhance the coordination of services such as vaccination and testing, and respond to issues that may arise.

Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers, and unions. These proposed changes are intended to complement the work that the government is doing to improve and expand transportation, virtual care and broadband internet access, making it easier for more people to pursue remote work and make Ontario the "work from anywhere" province.

If the amendments are passed, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada, and one of the first in North America, to ban non-compete agreements in employment. Ontario would also be the first jurisdiction in Canada to establish policies that help workers disconnect from their employment responsibilities.

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.