In late 2017, the Government of Ontario introduced its Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The legislation had been proposed much earlier in the year, but it was finally passed into law after much debate. Even after the Act was passed and changes were starting to roll out, there was still controversy.
The new Ontario government, elected in June, took a much closer look at the Act. In October, with input from concerned advocates, experts, and businesses, the government introduced Bill 47, which proposed to roll back many of the changes included in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.
Only parts of the Act are being repealed, with some of the new provisions staying in place. This quick guide will show you what’s changing and what’s staying the same.
What Was in the Fair Workplaces Act?
To understand what’s changing with the introduction of Bill 47, it helps to know some of the new regulations included in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, better known as Bill 148.
Bill 148 introduced sweeping changes to employment legislation in Ontario. It was based on the report of a committee. In drafting the legislation, however, the government failed to consult with a wide range of stakeholders.
The most talked-about change was the increase to the minimum wage. The Act mandated a hike from $11.60 per hour in October 2017 to $14 per hour in January 2018. It also proposed an additional increase in January 2019 to $15 per hour.
Bill 148 also included new workers’ rights regarding scheduling. Employees could refuse to be oncall if they weren’t notified 96 hours ahead of time. Personal leaves were also expanded to a total of 10 days, with two of them paid.
From the very beginning, Bill 148 stirred controversy in Ontario’s business community. Many felt it created undue burdens for business owners. Some worried minimum wage hikes would push inflation.
The government forged ahead and signed the bill into law, which came into effect in early 2018. One of the earliest signs of trouble was the public holiday pay formula.
The Act introduced a new formula for calculating public holiday pay, but employers quickly found fault with it. In some circumstances, it allowed workers to be paid for the same holiday more than once.
The government suspended the new formula and vowed to review new options. In the meantime, they reinstated the old formula.
Bill 47 Proposes to Undo Much of the Act
When the new government was elected in June, those who had been lobbying the previous government found this new government more open to hearing them out.
Ontario’s government reviewed the Act and echoed concerns that its provisions were creating undue burdens for business owners. To foster a more business-friendly climate and economic growth, the government drafted Bill 47.
Bill 47, entitled the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, reverses much of Bill 148. It suggests puttinga freeze on the minimum wage until 2020 and rolling back personal leave from 10 days to eight, with no paid days.
The old public holiday formula is now staying in place, with no plans to review it and replace it. Other changes proposed include rolling back rights around scheduling.
What Isn’t Changing?
Bill 47 is not repealing the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act in its entirety. While it does propose rolling back large chunks of the Act’s changes, there are also some things that will stay the same.
Minimum wage, for example, will stay at its current level. Provisions ensuring employees of different sexes are paid the same wage for equal work will also remain in place.
With Bill 47, the Ontario government has responded to concerns raised by business owners. With it, Ontario should become a more business-friendly environment.