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Government of Ontario releases the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Policies
Tim LawsonMatthew Demeo

The Government of Ontario has now released the much anticipated Final Report of the Changing Workplaces Review. The product of a two-year comprehensive review of employment and labour laws in Ontario, the Final Report contains 173 recommendations that could significantly alter the landscape for workplaces across the province.  Although currently only recommendations, the Government of Ontario has already announced that it will release its proposed “action plan” within the coming weeks. 

Yesterday, the Government of Ontario finally released the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report which comprehensively reviews Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the “LRA”).  Readers of this blog will recall that we reported regularly on the progress of the Changing Workplaces Review since it was announced back in February 2015.

The Final Report is over 400 page in length and contains 173 recommendations. This document could significantly alter Ontario’s workplaces and will likely reverberate across Canada.  While the recommendations have not been adopted by the Government of Ontario, the Government has already announced that it intends to respond to these recommendations with its own proposals within the coming weeks.

As a quick reminder, the Changing Workplaces Review was given a specific mandate from the Government: to address the prevalence of vulnerable workers and precarious employment. Many of the 173 recommendations are therefore a reflection of that agenda and could have potential to increase rates of unionization in sectors where unions have traditionally had low representation.

Despite the breadth and depth of the recommendations a number of trade unions immediately commented that the recommendations in the Final Report do not go far enough. Several union press releases have urged the Government of Ontario to go beyond the recommendations and enact further measures such as card check certification, automatic first contract arbitration, and sectoral bargaining.  Unions are also seeking paid sick days and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, despite neither being included as recommendations in the Final Report.

It remains to be seen how the Government of Ontario will react and respond to the Final Report. All indications are that we will find out soon and we will provide further updates.

In the interim, the Labour and Employment Group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP has reviewed the Final Report and released a paper titled The Changing Workplaces Review & the Potential Effects on Employers.  If you would like a copy of this paper, or have any questions about the Changing Workplaces Review and how it will impact your workplace, do not hesitate to contact Tim Lawson or Matthew Demeo, or any lawyer in our Ontario Labour and Employment Law Group.