On December 6, 2018, the Ontario government introduced another new bill that will make even further changes to Ontario’s labour and employment laws. This new bill, called Bill 66 or the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 (“Bill 66”), would make several amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Ontario’s Labour Relations Act, 1995 in an effort to address certain concerns raised by employers and others. These changes also seek to make Ontario businesses more competitive. Bill 66 comes on the heels of other recent legislative changes made by Ontario’s government including the changes made in Bill 47 or Making Ontario Open for Business Act. Further information about Bill 47 can be found in our recent blog post entitled “Premier Ford set to Reverse Recent Changes to Ontario Employment Laws.”
Bill 66 is not yet the law in Ontario but it has passed its first reading in the legislature.
The following are some key changes proposed under Bill 66 with respect to both the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) and Labour Relations Act (“LRA”):
- Bill 66 will eliminate the duty of employers to post a copy of an ESA poster in the workplace. The ESA poster currently sets out employer and employee rights and responsibilities under the ESA. However, Bill 66 will still mandate that the employer must provide a copy of the poster to each employee.
- Bill 66 will eliminate the requirement that employers must obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards in order for the employer to make agreements with employees to work more than 48 hours in one work week.
- Bill 66 will eliminate the requirement that employers must obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards in order to average hours of work for the purposes of determining an employee’s entitlement to over-time pay.
- Bill 66 would amend the LRA to deem certain municipal workers as well as certain workers employed by local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies to be “non-construction” employees.
- Bill 66 would eliminate any current binding collective agreements as a result of deeming the above workers to be “non-construction” employees and those trade unions would no longer be able to represent those workers.
Our Thoughts about Bill 66
We think that the most significant changes proposed under Bill 66 is with respect to the LRA. Currently, workers for local boards, municipalities, school boards, universities, etc. are deemed to be “construction” employees and, as such, are subject to collective agreements as “construction” employees. Bill 66 would make so those workers are no longer bound by any current collective agreement in the construction industry and those trade unions would not be able to represent those workers.
We believe that the purpose the government’s actions with respect to Bill 66 is to allow entities such as hospitals and universities to be able to work with non-union employees. It will be interesting to see what happens if Bill 66 actually becomes the law in Ontario and what the reactions will be from trade unions that currently represent these workers.
In any event, we encourage employers to refrain from taking any major action about their employment policies or procedures with respect to Bill 66 given that Bill 66 is not yet the law in Ontario. If either employers or employees have any questions about Bill 66 and how these new changes will affect the workplace, it is imperative that they speak with an employment lawyer to help guide them.