Change a comin’? Provincial government kicks off public consultation process on reforms to the Labour Relations Act, 1994 and Employment Standards Act, 2000

June 19, 2015 | Laura Cassiani

Making good on its promise to undertake a review of the province’s key labour and employment statutes, the Ministry of Labour began public consultations on June 16, 2015 on how to modernize the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and the Labour Relations Act, 1994 (“LRA”).  

According to the Ministry of Labour, the objective of the “Changing Workplaces Review” is “to improve security and opportunity for those made vulnerable by the structural economic pressures and changes being experienced by Ontarians in 2015.”

The government promised to undertake a review of existing labour and employment standards laws and processes in last year’s Speech from the Throne. The government promised to “engage with Ontarians to consider what it can do in the context of our labour and employment law regime to continue to protect workers while supporting business in today’s modern economy.”

 The Review will address the following issues and topics:

  • improving protections for vulnerable workers;
  • improving protections for part-time, casual and temporary workers;
  • new models of worker representations including other forms of union representation currently provided for;
  • considering ways to simplify the ESA;
  • job protected leaves;
  • the scope and application of the ESA and LRA, including exemptions and exclusions;
  • whether “specific employment relationships (temporary help employees, subcontractors) require “special attention”;
  • ESA enforcement provisions;
  • increasing compliance with the ESA;
  • how employees choose union representation under the LRA;
  • how bargaining units are defined;
  • broader bargaining structures for certain industries;
  • protection of bargaining rights;
  • rules relating to collective bargaining;
  • whether new “tools” are needed to deal with industrial disputes or protracted labour disputes;
  • unfair labour practices and OLRB’s remedies and powers to respond to unfair labour practices;   

 According to the government, the following areas and issues will not form part of this review:

  • the construction provisions of the LRA;
  • minimum wage rates;
  • gender wage gap issues;
  • issues pertaining to migrant workers;
  • interest arbitration for “essential services” (i.e., police, firefighters, hospital workers); and
  • bargaining structures in the broader public sector.

We will continue to monitor and update you on developments of this review.    

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