Repeal of Bill 148
On October 23, the Government of Ontario announced that it was proposing Bill 47: the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, which includes a near-full repeal of Bill 148, the Fair Workplace, Better Jobs Act, 2017, along with improvements to Ontario’s apprenticeship system.
We are encouraged by the Government taking action to minimize the unintended consequences of Bill 148 on our business community.
Continue reading below to see details of some of the important reforms introduced in Bill 47. See here for a short video from the DiBrina Group on Bill 47. Additionally, see here for a chart of the changes to be implemented by Bill 47, prepared by our friends at the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
Bill 47: Key Labour Reforms
Bill 47 introduces key reforms to Ontario’s labour legislation, including, but not limited to:
Bill 47 will cancel the planned hike of the minimum wage to $15/hour and pause it at $14/hour for 33 months, and tie future raises to the inflation rate.
Bill 148’s minimum wage increase was unprecedented in North America for both its amount and the speed by which it was to be implemented. According to a study by Ontario’s Fiscal Accountability Office, Bill 148’s scheduled increases would have put approximately 50,000 jobs at risk.
Bill 47 repeals many of the scheduling provisions introduced by Bill 148. Bill 148 allowed employees to refuse a shift scheduled with less than 96 hours of notice and required employers to pay staff for a minimum of three hours of work in the case of a cancelled or reduced shift. The 96-hour rule will be cancelled by Bill 47, while the 3-hour rule will be maintained.
The 96-hour rule introduced by Bill 148 made scheduling difficult and more expensive for businesses, especially for industries that rely on on-call or casual work.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Bill 147 required that employers provide equal pay to part-time and full-time employees, as well as temporary help agency employees, who perform the same work. Implementation was costly and challenging for small businesses in particular. Bill 47 will repeal this provision, and increase flexibility for employers.
This provision does not repeal or refer to pay equity legislation, which dictates that men and women must be paid the same wage for the same work.
Public Holiday Pay
Bill 47 will return the holiday pay calculation formula to what it was before Bill 148’s changes. Bill 148 required employers to divide regular wages earned in the pay period before the public holiday by the number of days worked in that pay period. This formula made it more expensive for employers to hire casual and part-time workers and disadvantaged full-time staff. Returning to the old status quo will ensure a fair system for both employers and employees.
Bill 148 extended card-based union certification to the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector, and home care and community services industry. Card-based certification can detract from what should be a democratic process for union certification. Bill 47 will revert union certification back to secret-ballot voting, which will ensure workers are not subject to peer pressure and can safely exercise their democratic rights.
See our resolution on this here.
Personal Emergency Leave
Under Bill 148, employees were entitled to a minimum of 10 personal emergency leave days per year, with two paid and eight unpaid. Bill 47 will amend this to a total of eight unpaid leave days, with three allocated for sick days, two for bereavement, and three for family emergencies. Additionally, employers are once again allowed to ask employees for a doctor’s note. These changes help promote accountability and predictability in the workplace.
Bill 47: the Ontario College of Trades
Bill 47 will dissolve the Ontario College of Trades (OCoT).
Since its establishment in 2009, the OCoT has become overly focused on enforcement and regulation, limiting its ability to serve the public interest by attracting and training new tradespeople. The OCoT’s responsibilities will be uploaded to the Ministry of Labour.
The chamber network has long called for a modernization of the OCoT, or failing that, it’s dissolution. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce advocated for dissolving the OCoT and uploading its responsibilities to the Ministry of Labour in its Blueprint Letters to Cabinet Ministers. This is an important step in modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system and developing a stronger, more competitive workforce.
Additionally, Bill 47 will change all journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratios to 1:1. Ontario’s current journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratios make it difficult for employers to fulfill high levels of demand for skilled tradespeople, as they struggle to recruit sufficient journeypersons to hire more apprentices. This problem has been even more glaring in Northern Ontario and has severely limited our ability to expand the tradespeople work force. Lowering the ratio to 1:1 will alleviate some pressures and make it easier to hire and train apprentices to fill critical gaps in the skilled trades.