I posted in May about upcoming reforms to Ontario’s workplace laws and you’ve likely heard other rumblings in the employment and HR world about Bill 148, known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. Early in June the first reading of the Bill was carried, the second reading discharged and the Bill referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The Committee is now tasked with examining the economic impact of the proposed changes, something that may be on many employers’ minds. The Committee will be holding public consultations across the province during the month of July. Those interested in participating in the process can find more details here.
What has many employers concerned is that the changes proposed by the Bill largely favour employees. Premier Wynne has said that the changes are intended to address the new realities of working in Ontario brought on by technology, increased automation and the rise in precarious contract, freelance and part-time work. Critics think that the workplace changes could decrease the attractiveness of Ontario to businesses looking to expand operations or set up shop. For example the Ontario government reports that should the Bill pass, more than a quarter of Ontario workers will receive a pay hike due to the increase to the minimum wage.
On June 7 Alberta passed new workplace legislation, similarly designed to make workplaces more employee friendly. It will be interesting to watch how these changes play out. But are economic growth and improved rights for employees mutually exclusive? Premier Wynne thinks not. I guess it depends what side of the fence you sit on.
Ontario lawmakers are on summer recess until September 8, with January 1, 2018 being the proposed effective date for most amendments it’s expected that the Bill will be finalized some time this fall.
In the next series of posts I will address the specifics of the Bill and what changes will mean for Ontario workplaces.