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Bulletin | The HR Space

Ontario Proposing Significant New Employment Law Changes in Bill 27

Fasken
Reading Time 4 minute read
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Overview

Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

On October 25, 2021, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“Bill 27”) in the Legislative Assembly.[1] If passed, Bill 27 would create significant new employer obligations and rights for workers in Ontario. [2] 

Background

In June 2021, Minister Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development established the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (the “Committee”), to provide recommendations on the future of work in Ontario.[3] The Committee was tasked to provide recommendations in three areas: economic recovery; strengthening the province’s competitive position in recruiting, retaining and rewarding workers; and supporting workers wholesale. The Government has indicated its proposed changes in Bill 27 reflect the advice and recommendations of the Committee.

What’s Being Proposed?

Within Bill 27, the following key legislative changes are proposed, among others, namely through changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 [4]:

  • Disconnecting from work: Requiring employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of each workday. The term “disconnecting from work” is proposed to mean not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.[5]
  • No more non-compete agreements: Banning the use of non-compete agreements, with one significant exception.  In the context of a sale of business or part of a business, where the seller becomes an employee of the purchaser, they would be permitted to enter into an agreement that prohibits the seller from engaging in any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that is in competition with the purchaser’s business after the sale.[6]
  • Removing Canadian experience requirements: Removing barriers, such as Canadian experience requirements, for internationally trained individuals to get licenced in certain regulated professions and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills, through amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006.[7] However, regulated professions would still be required to ensure they comply with any regulations respecting English or French language proficiency testing requirements.
  • Licensing recruiting and temporary help agencies: Requiring recruiters and temporary help agencies to have a licence to operate in the province. Licenses would be issued by the Director of Employment Standards, and would be for a term of one-year at a time. Bill 27 proposes a regime for license suspension, revocation, and review for any suspension or revocation, including by way of proceeding before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
  • Requiring washroom availability for delivery workers: Requiring business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company’s washroom if they are delivering or picking up items by way of amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.[8] Proposed exceptions to the rule are: if providing access would not be reasonable or practical for reasons relating to the health or safety of any person at the workplace, including the worker who requests to use a washroom; if providing access would not be reasonable or practical having regard to all the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the nature of the workplace, the type of work at the workplace, the conditions of work at the workplace, the security of any person at the workplace and the location of the washroom within the workplace; or if the washroom is in or can only be accessed through a dwelling.[9]
  • Using WSIB surpluses to assist in COVID-19 recovery: Allowing surpluses in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (“WSIB”) Insurance Fund to be distributed over certain levels to businesses, which will help businesses cope with the impacts of COVID-19. Bill 27 provides that in certain circumstances, the WSIB is permitted or required to distribute amounts in the insurance fund in excess of prescribed amounts to qualifying employers.[10]
  • Streamlining employer remittances: Enabling the WSIB to work with entities, like the Canada Revenue Agency, to streamline remittances for businesses, enabling an efficient way for submitting premiums and payroll deductions.
  • Enhancing agricultural sector information gathering: Allowing the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to collect information related to the agri-food workforce to ensure the government can enhance the coordination of services such as vaccination and testing, and respond to issues that may arise.[11]

Next Steps

Bill 27 was carried at First Reading on Monday, October 25, 2021. It is expected that it will proceed to Second Reading and then on to a committee in the near future for further consideration and public consultation.

We will continue to monitor the progress of this Bill and any other legislative amendments as they arise.

If you have questions regarding Bill 27 or how it may impact your workplace, please contact the authors or your regular Fasken lawyer.


[1] Government of Ontario, “Working for Workers Act, 2021”.

[2] Bill 27, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to employment and labour and other matters [PDF] (short title: Working for Workers Act, 2021), First Reading [Bill 27].

[3] Government of Ontario, “Ontario's Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee: Leading the future of work in Ontario”.

[4] Bill 27, Schedules 1-6.

[5] Ibid at Schedule 2, s. 21.1.1.    

[6] Ibid at Schedule 2, s. 67.2(3).

[7] Ibid at Schedule 3.

[8] Ibid at Schedule 5.

[9] Ibid at ss. 29(1)-(2).

[10] Ibid at Schedule 6, s. 97.1.

[11] Ibid at Schedule 4.

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