Ontario’s Bill 47 puts the minimum wage increase on hold until 2020

Dorothy Chong | December 12, 2018

A quick review of what the new bill brings to the Employment Standards Act and how the old is new again

Ontario’s labour laws have undergone tectonic changes in the past year. In 2017, Bill 148 was introduced by the then-government to address workplace issues like minimum wage, equal pay, employee misclassification and vacation time. Also known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, it was passed on November 22, 2017. It signalled some of the most significant revisions to the province’s employment laws in decades and was generally viewed as employee-friendly. Eleven months later, on October 23, 2018, a newly elected administration presented Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, to repeal various provisions set forth in Bill 148. On November 21, Bill 47 received Royal Assent, making it an official act of Parliament and part of the law. Below is a summarized comparison between the two acts, as well as points to consider for both the employers and employees.

What’s next and what to expect

Currently, the new bill (47) in relation to changes to the ESA is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2019. Since there are always exceptions to the rule, here are the two most immediate and crucial points to consider before putting Bill 47 provisions in place.1. Employees on collective agreements or contractsIt’s best to consult professional, legal advice instead of assuming the new law will take precedent. Demoting the conditions to contractual obligations around working hours, salary, status or benefits can be defined as constructive dismissal, where infractions carry hefty penalties.2. Unused leaveEmployees with unused leave provided under Bill 148 are still entitled to take them before we usher in the new year. Be prepared to accommodate this in terms of staffing and getting in extra help if necessary. In an upcoming post, we will look at how Bill 47 affects Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA), which regulates employment relationships within unionized workplaces in the province of Ontario. LRA changes are in immediate effect and involve matters like certification, a trade union’s right to employee lists and restrictions on bargaining units and agreement arbitration. Considering how the labour law landscape has changed in 12 months, the only certainty is that there could be more changes over the horizon.
Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was accurate at the time of publication. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, employment and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
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