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The most recent amendments to Ontario’s employment laws came in the form of Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023. Bill 79 received royal assent on October 26, 2023, and it came into force on the same day.

This blog discusses the amendments made by Bill 79, and their effect on employment legislation in Ontario.

The amendments impacted several workplace Acts, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA); the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990 (OHSA); and the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (FARPACTA).

Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)

Mass terminations

Bill 79 introduced new regulations related to mass terminations. For example, certain remote workers in Ontario are now explicitly included in the ESA’s mass termination provisions.

The mass termination provisions provide for greater notice periods when an employer terminates 50 or more employees at an “establishment” in any four-week period. Bill 79 amends the definition of “establishment” to include an employee’s private residence if the employee works from that residence and does not perform work at any other location where the employer carries on business. As a result, remote workers may now count toward the 50-termination threshold and may have greater termination entitlements in the event of a mass termination.

Reservist Leave

Bill 79 amends eligibility for reservist leave. The new regulations expand the provision to include circumstances where an employee is in treatment, recovery or rehabilitation for an illness or injury resulting from participation in reservist activities. The amendments reduce the service requirement for reservist leave eligibility from three months to two months.

Other amendments to the ESA

Further amendments impact the areas of temporary help agencies and information gathering. More specifically, Bill 79 introduces new licensing criteria for temporary help agencies and recruiters to protect foreign nationals. The amendments make licensing requirements for recruiters more stringent to prevent practices such as charging fees to foreign nationals.
Bill 79 also expands the government’s regulation-making authority regarding the information employers must provide about conditions of employment. This means that the government may now prescribe information that must be provided not only to an employee, but also to a prospective employee, and when this information must be provided.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

The amendments of Bill 79 also impact the Occupational Health and Safety Act, particularly in the sphere of maximum fines for corporations.

The amendments increase the maximum fine for corporations for offenses related to the act from $1.5 million to $2 million.

Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006

Bill 79 amends the duty of regulated professions regarding public interest. Regulated professions now have a duty to work in consultation with the government to ensure, as a matter of public interest, that there are adequate numbers of qualified, skilled, and competent regulated professionals in Ontario. If regulated professions accept “Canadian experience” as one way of qualifying for registration, they must now also provide for alternatives to Canadian experience.

How the team at Sultan Lawyers can help you

Whether you are an employee or an employer who needs assistance with employment matters, including how Bill 79 may affect you or your business, we would be happy to assist you. Please contact Toronto employment and immigration lawyers, Sultan Lawyers at (416) 214-5111 or here

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