On December 6, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 (Bill 66). If passed in its present form, the new legislation would amend several of Ontario’s workplace laws, including both the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA).
This new legislation follows Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which received Royal Assent on November 21, 2018. Both pieces of legislation are intended to make Ontario a more favourable environment for businesses. A review of Bill 47 can be found in our In a Flash of November 22, 2018, Ontario Passes Bill 47 Making Ontario Open for Business.
Highlights of the proposed changes in the Act to Restore Ontario’s Competitiveness include:
Labour Relations Act, 1995
- Deeming Non-Construction Employers: Bill 66 proposes to amend the LRA to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public bodies to be non-construction employers. As a result, these entities would no longer be bound to construction industry collective agreements, and any existing agreements would be terminated.
- Amending the Bargaining Unit: Some of the entities affected by the proposed amendments regarding non-construction employers may currently have bargaining units that include construction and non-construction employees. These entities would be able to apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to have the composition of such bargaining units redefined.
Employment Standards Act, 2000
- Posting ESA Posters: Bill 66 proposes that employers no longer be required to post in the workplace a poster providing information about the ESA and its associated regulations. Instead, employers would only be required to give each employee a copy of the most recent version of the poster.
- Eliminating Requirement to Obtain Approval: Employers would no longer be required to seek the approval of the Director of Employment Standards in order to enter into overtime averaging agreements with their employees designed to average overtime over several weeks or to exceed 48 hours of work in a work week.
- Duration of Overtime Averaging Agreements: Under the current terms of the ESA, averaging agreements applicable to unionized employees cannot be valid for more than one year after they take effect. Under Bill 66, these agreements will continue to be effective until a subsequent collective agreement applicable to the employees comes into operation.
- Existing Averaging Agreements: Bill 66 proposes that existing averaging agreements would be deemed to have met the requirements set out in the ESA, and would continue to be valid until the employer and employee agree to revoke it, the Director revokes it, or the Director’s approval expires.
The new legislation also impacts other areas of workplace law, including:
- Pension Benefits Act: The proposed change would remove restrictions on the ability of private-sector employers to merge their single-employer pension plans with jointly sponsored pension plans.
- Agriculture: The proposed amendments would apply the Agriculture Employees Protection Act (AEPA) to ornamental horticultural workers, except those employed by a municipality or employed in silviculture. Employees covered by AEPA are not permitted to unionize, but they have the right to form associations for the purposes of making representations to their employer regarding working terms and conditions.
The proposed Bill is not yet law. However, it is expected that these changes will likely proceed quickly through the legislature. Stay tuned for further updates.
Register here for our Bye-Bye Bill 148: A Review of Ontario’s New Changes to Workplace Laws webinar.
If you have any questions regarding the impact of any upcoming changes to Ontario’s workplace laws please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.