Unions & Labour Relations

The Ontario government introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act  (“Bill 66”) on December 6, 2018. If passed, Bill 66 will make amendments to several pieces of legislation in Ontario. The government has stated that its objective in introducing these changes is to “lower business costs to make Ontario more competitive” and to “harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment.” We outline below the proposed changes to the province’s labour and employment legislation below.

Key takeaways

Employers should not alter their policies or practices to reflect Bill 66…yet. Employers can anticipate that the government will move quickly in advancing Bill 66 through the legislative process. The swift rate at which Bill 47 and Bill 57 were implemented is likely to be repeated in the case of Bill 66.

Proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”)

If Bill 66 is implemented in its current form, the ESA would be amended such that employers would no longer be required to obtain the Director of Employment Standards’s approval to make agreements to:

  1. permit their employees to exceed 48 hours of work in a work week; or
  2. allow averaging of an employee’s hours of work for the purpose of determining the employee’s entitlement to overtime pay.

Under Bill 66, the employer would be able to average the employee’s hours of work over a period not exceeding four weeks in accordance with the terms of an averaging agreement between the employer and the employee. Existing overtime averaging agreements in unionized workplaces would continue to be effective until a subsequent collective agreement comes into effect.

The current requirement to obtain the Director’s approval for excess hours and overtime averaging agreements came into effect in 2005 under the Liberal government. The provisions were controversial at the time due to the administrative burden placed on employers to obtain these approvals.

In addition, Bill 66 contemplates that employers would no longer be required to post a poster in their workplaces to provide information to employees about the ESA and its regulations.

Proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act (“LRA”)

The LRA has a unique set of rules for certifying unions in the construction industry that can result in province-wide, multi-employer collective agreements. Currently, employers subject to this regime whose primary business is not construction may apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to be declared a “non-construction employer” under the LRA, relieving them of their obligation to comply with the terms of these collective agreements.

If Bill 66 passes, designated employers, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, will be deemed to be “non-construction employers” under the LRA. Designated employers will be released from the obligations established under the “construction provisions” of the LRA. In some cases, this will enable designated employers to tender construction projects to non-union contractors and/or negotiate agreements specific to the circumstances of their sector.

We will continue to monitor the status of Bill 66 and report on its progress.

– Many thanks to Shereen Aly for her assistance with this article.

On November 21, 2018, Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018  (“Bill 47”), passed Third Reading and received Royal Assent. Bill 47 repeals or rewrites numerous provisions of the previous government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017  (“Bill 148”). To help employers navigate and prepare for the many changes under Bill 47, we have summarized the key changes and what is left intact. Continue Reading Ontario’s Bill 47 Gets Green Light

We’re pleased to share Jordan Kirkness’s article, here, on the impact to employers of Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act. The article was published in today’s edition of the Globe and Mail.

If it comes into effect in its current form, Bill 47 will reverse most of Bill 148 (the previous government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 ). However, as Jordan points out, Bill 47 is not necessarily a win for employers. Even if Bill 47 changes employers’ statutory obligations, altering Bill 148 commitments is likely to damage employee morale and may lead to constructive dismissal claims. For further details on Bill 47, please also see here.

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open For Business Act, 2018, to repeal numerous provisions of the previous government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017  (Bill 148). The government indicated that the proposed amendments are designed to “remove the worst burdens that prevent Ontario businesses from creating jobs while expanding opportunities for workers.” We outline the key provisions of Bill 47 below. Continue Reading Ontario Government Introduces Bill 47 to Reverse Most of Bill 148

We’re pleased to share an informative article, “Know the Joint Employer Risks Where You Operate“, authored by our colleagues Will Woods and Emily Harbison. The article outlines key developments in joint employer liability for franchisors operating in Australia, Canada and Mexico and describes a proactive approach to help mitigate against risk. It was published in the September 2018 edition of Franchising World. Follow this link for further information about how we can assist employers in this area.

Recent polling suggests that the June 7th Ontario election is a hotly contested race with the NDP currently holding a lead in the polls and the PCs in second place. We are closely monitoring the election developments to keep you informed as to what a new government will mean for Ontario employers.

Below we outline the NDP’s proposed reforms to employment and labour laws. If pursued, the NDP’s proposed initiatives set out in their platform will significantly impact employers and go well beyond the changes recently introduced by the Ontario government under Bill 148. Continue Reading Another Orange Crush? What to Expect from an NDP Government

This is the second article in our three-part series highlighting recent changes to Alberta’s labour and employment legislation.  Here we focus on changes to Alberta’s labour relations regime. As a result of recent enactments, a number of significant changes to Alberta’s Labour Relations Code (“LRC”) are now in effect, as outlined below. Continue Reading Card-Based Certification and Other Key Changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code

Bill 148: Review & Compliance Check

We invite you to join Baker McKenzie’s Employment & Compensation Group in Toronto on February 28, 2018 as we review key changes under Ontario’s Bill 148 and provide practical guidance to assist you in meeting the new legislative requirements. For the event details and to register, please click here.

Ontario employers face a number of new challenges in 2018 as a result of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (“Bill 148”). To help employers navigate the many changes under Bill 148, we have outlined the key changes that employers need to be aware of. We have also indicated planning actions to consider in view of these changes. Continue Reading Bill 148: Key Changes & What to Do About Them