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Canada: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

  • June 26, 2017

Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

This briefing note comes to us from LLAC member Michael Sherrard and covers many of the labor law changes that were recently passed by the Government of Ontario as part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act of 2017.  The Final Report as well as this Executive Summary can be found on the home page of Sherrard Kuzz.

Executive Summary June 2017

Sherrard Kuzz LLP, Employment & Labour Lawyers

In February 2015, the Government of Ontario announced it would review issues and trends
affecting workers and employers in the modern workplace. Two Special Advisors were appointed
to lead public consultations: C. Michael Mitchell, formerly of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, and
the Honourable John C. Murray, former justice of the Ontario Superior Court and prominent
management labour lawyer.

Consultations began in May, 2015 focusing on how the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)
and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (“LRA”) could be amended to keep pace with the changing
needs of workers and employers.

On July 27, 2016, the Special Advisors published an Interim Report (the “Interim Report”)
summarizing input they had received and seeking additional submissions.
On May 23, 2017, the Government of Ontario released “The Changing Workplaces Review: An
Agenda for Workplace Rights Final Report” (the “Final Report”). At 419 pages, the Final
Report contains 173 recommendations to amend the ESA and LRA.

One week later, the Government introduced An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act,
2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and to make related amendments to other Acts,
referred to as the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017” (“Bill 148”).

What has caught the attention of the employer community is the degree to which many of the
amendments in Bill 148 go far beyond the recommendations of the Special Advisors.
It is our view the amendments signal a clear intention on the part of the Government to focus on
the demands of unions and employee advocates to the detriment of business and a strong
economy. Small business, in particular, responsible for 28% of Ontario’s gross domestic
product and 66% of private-sector employment in Ontario, is likely to suffer most significantly.

Changing Workplaces Review – Final Report and Bill 148 – Executive Summary – June 2017
Main 416.603.0700 / 24 Hour 416.420.0738 / www.sherrardkuzz.com
Bill 148 passed First Reading on June 1. A motion to dispense with Second Reading also passed
and the Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The
Standing Committee is scheduled to review the Bill throughout the summer.

Meanwhile, it is imperative employers and business organizations continue to engage with
the Government to ensure it understands the negative impact Bill 148, in its current form,
will have on job creation and economic prosperity in Ontario, both long and short-term.
This Executive Summary provides an overview of the Final Report and Bill 148, and offers
Commentary from our firm.

The Final Report as well as this Executive Summary can also be found on the home page of our website at www.sherrardkuzz.com.

1 Small business also represents 99% of Ontario’s construction industry; 97% of Ontario’s retail and healthcare
industries; and 99% of Ontario’s professional, scientific and technical services industries (Statistics Canada, 2015)