On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Ontario’s Bill 100, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes (“Budget Bill”), passed 3rd Reading and received Royal Assent. Schedule 53 of the Budget Bill contained various significant amendments to the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act, 1997 (“PSLRTA”), which are now in force.
PSLRTA previously applied to, among other things, changes in the delivery of health services in Ontario that fell within the broad definition of a “health services integration”:
“health services integration” means an integration that affects the structure or existence of one or more employers or that affects the provision of programs, services or functions by the employers, including but not limited to an integration that involves a dissolution, amalgamation, division, rationalization, consolidation, transfer, merger, commencement or discontinuance, where every employer subject to the integration is,
(a) a health service provider within the meaning of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006,
(b) an employer whose primary function is or, immediately following the integration, will be the provision of services within or to the health services sector, or
(c) a local health integration network;
By operation of various sections of the PSLRTA, it applied to both full and partial health services integrations.
However, under Schedule 53 of the Budget Bill, the definition of “health services integration” under the PSLRTA has been repealed.
Previously, sections 8 and 9 of PSLRTA set out the application of the PSLRTA to the “hospital sector” and the “health sector”, respectively. These sections have now been repealed by Schedule 53 and replaced with a new section 8 that applies to “health service providers.” Significantly, in relation to health service providers, the PSLRTA only applies when:
- two or more health service providers amalgamate; or
- one health service provider transfers all, or substantially all, of its assets to another health service provider.
This change substantially curtails the scope of situations to which the PSLRTA can apply in the health sector. Whereas the PSLRTA previously could apply to a broad range of situations, including the transfer of responsibility for certain services between health service providers or the decision by two health service providers to cooperate in the delivery of services, that is no longer the case. The two circumstances in which the PSLRTA can now apply in the health sector appear to be much more clearly defined than was previously the case under the definition of “health services integration.”
Schedule 53 sets out that “health service provider” has the same meaning as in the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006, and following the in force date of Bill 74, The People’s Health Care Act, 2019, a health service provider in accordance with the Connecting Care Act, 2019.
There are other minor amendments to the PSLRTA and corresponding changes to other legislation in Schedule 53 of the Budget Bill.
The changes to the PSLRTA should assist innovation and the delivery of integrated health care services across the continuum of care through Ontario Health Teams. Having said that, health service providers will still have to consider any potential application of the Labour Relations Act as they embark on new integrated care delivery systems.