Ontario passes legislation to create ‘fair workplaces and better jobs’

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 act will raise the minimum wage, expand personal emergency leave and step up enforcement of employment laws.

By BW Staff

Toronto, Ontario — November 22, 2017 — Today, Ontario made huge strides in its efforts to promote fairness to Ontario workplaces and create more security and opportunity for vulnerable workers and their families. The province passed a new legislation, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017, which will primarily affect part-time and contract workers. The act will raise the minimum wage, expand personal emergency leave and step up enforcement of employment laws.

Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, commented: “Over the past two years, we’ve heard from people across the province about the need to update our labour and employment laws. Ontario workers deserve fair wages they can live on, as well as safe and fair working conditions. Too many families struggle to get by on part-time or temporary work. Those working full-time can be living in poverty. This is unacceptable in Ontario. The Fair Wages, Better Jobs Act will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity.”

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 will:

  • Raise Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.
  • Mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as employees at the agencies’ client companies.
  • Bump personal emergency leave up to 10 days per calendar year for all employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week.
  • Ban employers from requiring a doctor’s sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • Provide up to 17 weeks off without the fear of losing their job when a worker or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence, including paid leave for the first five days.
  • Bring Ontario’s vacation time in line with the national average by ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer.
  • Make employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.
  • The government is also expanding family leaves and adding measures to ensure that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors, ensuring they get the benefits and protections they deserve.

To enforce these changes, the province is hiring up to 175 more employment standards officers and is launching a program to educate both employees and businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes raising the minimum wage, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.

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