The Ontario government has taken the next step in the development of a licensing framework for temporary help agencies (THAs) and recruiters operating in the province. On November 21, 2022, Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (Ministry) announced a public consultation process with respect to the development of supporting regulations for the new framework.

Readers may recall that the government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) in late 2021 through Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021. Among other things, Bill 27 established the basic requirements for the new licensing framework and provided for further requirements to be established by regulation. Details may be found in our prior FTR Now articles of October 26, 2021, Ontario Proposes Significant Changes to ESA and Other Employment-Related Legislation, and December 1, 2021, Ontario Passes Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, As Amended at Committee.

The objective of the consultation process is to solicit stakeholder views on a series of proposals and questions related to the regulations that will fill out the licensing framework, and which are contained in a consultation paper entitled Improving Compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in the Temporary Help Sector. The consultation paper is soliciting feedback on a range of key topics, including:

  • a draft definition of "recruiter," which is currently proposed as "any person who, for a fee, finds or attempt to find, employment in Ontario for prospective employees" or similarly "who, for a fee, finds or attempts to find employees for prospective employers in Ontario"
  • a proposed application fee amount of $750.00 for a THA or recruiter applying for a licence or a renewal of a licence
  • a requirement to provide security in the form of a $25,000 irrevocable letter of credit which may be "drawn down" by the Ministry to cover amounts owing under the ESA or the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009
  • the types of contraventions that could lead to an administrative monetary penalty being issued against a non-compliant THA, recruiter or a client of a THA or recruiter, including the proposed quantum of those penalties (which would start at $15,000 for a first-time contravention and would increase for additional contraventions within defined time frames, up to $100,000).

Clearly, the proposed regulations that are the subject of the consultation paper will be of most interest to THAs and recruiters that operate in Ontario. However, some aspects of the regulations could impact employers more generally—for example, questions related to the breadth of the definition of "recruiter" and the proposed administrative monetary penalties for clients of THAs and recruiters. Moreover, the nature and specificity of the questions and proposals in the consultation paper suggest that the regulations may well be in a reasonably advanced stage of development. Therefore, any interested organization should carefully review the consultation paper and consider responding by the deadline of December 6, 2022.

Readers should consult the Ministry's announcement for further information about providing input into the consultation process, or contact your Hicks Morley lawyer for assistance.

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.