Ontario Introduces More “Good News” Legislation for Employers

As many of our readers will recall, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, also known as Bill 47, received Royal Assent on November 21, 2018, which has and will reverse many of the changes that resulted from Bill 148.

Before much of Bill 47 even had time to take effect, the Ontario Government has taken additional steps to further revamp Ontario’s workplace laws. On December 6, 2018, the Ontario Government tabled new legislation, Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. While many pieces of legislation will be impacted by Bill 66, if passed in its current form, employers will be interested in the following changes: 

Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000:

  • No Longer the Need to Post the ESA Posters: Employers would no longer be required to post the ESA posters in their workplace, however, they still will be required to provide the ESA poster to employees.
  • Director Approval No Longer Required for Hours of Work Agreements:
    • Employers would no longer be required to obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards when it makes a written agreement with an employee to:
      • Work beyond 48 hours in a week; or
      • Average hours over a period of two to four weeks for the purposes of calculating overtime.

Changes to the Labour Relations Act:

  • Changes to the Definition of “Non-Construction Employer”: A new section will be added which would deem a whole host of entities to be “non-construction employers” within the definition of the LRA, including municipalities, certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies. As a result, construction trade unions that hold bargaining rights with these entities for employees who work in the construction industry would no longer represent those employees. As such, 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 employers affected by the above-noted amendment may currently have bargaining units composed of both construction and non-construction employees. These employers and affected trade unions may apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to amend or redefine such bargaining units.

Changes to the Pension Benefits Act:

  • Jointly Sponsored Pension Plans: Schedule 6 of Bill 66 repeals subsection 80.4 (1) of the Pension Benefits Act, which currently provides that the conversion of single employer pension plans to jointly sponsored pension plans, implemented through a transfer of assets and liabilities, is only available with respect to plans that are public sector plans and with respect to prescribed pension plans or classes of pension plans. For a single employer pension plan in the private sector, this amendment has the effect of removing the requirement that the plan be prescribed in a regulation under the Pension Benefits Act prior to transferring the plan’s assets and liabilities to the jointly sponsored pension plan, facilitating an easier path to conversion through less bureaucratic legwork

It is important to underscore that the planned changes have not actually been passed into law, so it remains to be seen which changes will ultimately be adopted and implemented by the Government. We will update you periodically as Bill 66 moves through the legislative process, but in the interim if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Victor Kim, Matthew Demeo, Kelleher Lynch or any lawyer in our Ontario Labour and Employment Law Group.

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