Legislative Updates

Further to last May’s final report of the Changing Workplaces Review, the provincial government has announced its intent to implement measures to modify employment standards, including:

• Raising Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.

• Mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies.

• Expanding personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers.

• Increasing the minimum vacation entitlements to three weeks’ after five years’ service.

• Requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work for shifts cancelled within 48 hours of the scheduled start time.

Bird Richard will keep readers apprised of upcoming legislative changes in this regard.

Provincial legislation will address Sexual and Domestic Violence

Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 is slated to come into effect three months after it receives Royal Assent. This provincial Bill will amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to allow employees a reasonable number of days each year (10 of which shall be paid) to take a leave of absence if they, or their children have experienced domestic or sexual violence. The leave is to be used for medical visits, consulting legal counsel or seeking out victim services. The amendments also entitle employees to reasonable accommodation with respect to their work hours and workplace.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act will be amended to require employers to ensure that every manager, supervisor and worker receives information and instruction about domestic and sexual violence in the workplace.

Amendments to the Canada Labour Code

Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, was at its First Reading on April 11, 2017, and will enter into force on a day to be fixed by the Governor in Council.

As previously reported, this Bill amends the Employment Insurance Act to, among other things, allow for the payment of parental benefits over a longer period at a lower benefit rate, allow maternity benefits to be paid as early as the 12th week before the expected week of birth, create a benefit for family members to care for a critically ill adult, and allow for benefits to care for a critically ill child to be payable to family members.

The Bill also amends the Canada Labour Code (Code) to, among other things, increase the maximum length of parental leave to 63 weeks, extend the period prior to the estimated date of birth when the maternity leave may begin to 13 weeks, create a leave for a family member to care for a critically ill adult, and allow for the leave related to the critical illness of a child to be taken by a family member.

Additionally, the Bill amends the Code to:

• provide a complaint mechanism for employer reprisals under Part II of the Code;

• establish an administrative monetary penalty scheme to supplement existing enforcement measures under Parts II (health and safety) and III (labour standards) of the Code;

• permit the Minister of Labour to order an employer to determine, following an internal audit, whether it is in compliance with a provision of Part III of the Code and to provide the Minister with a corresponding report;

• permit inspectors to order an employer to cease the contravention of a provision of Part III of the Code;

• extend the period with respect to which a payment order to recover unpaid wages or other amounts may be issued;

• impose administrative fees on employers to whom payment orders are issued; and

• transfer to the Canada Industrial Relations Board the powers, duties and functions of appeals officers under Part II of the Code and of referees and adjudicators under Part III of the Code.