employment news

Top Employer news stories from 2017

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2017 was a big year for Ontario and changes to employment. Between reviews and changes to employment legislation to unexpected changes in the labour market, chances are that 2017 had an impact on your business. Here are some of the top employment news stories from the last year:

Minimum wage

In May of 2017 the Ontario government announced plans to increase the minimum wage in Ontario. The plan was based on recommendations from a report called the “The Changing Workplaces Review”–which was a survey conducted by the government to assess the current state of Ontario’s Labour Force.

On November 27, 2017 the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs” Bill was passed. Effective January 1 2018, the general minimum wage in Ontario is $14.00 per hour. On January 1, 2019 the minimum wage will raise again to $15 per hour and it will increase every year after that to keep in line with inflation.

The jump from $11.60 per hour to $14 per hour represents the single largest increase in minimum wage since it was first introduced in 1920. This minimum wage increase makes Ontario the second province, after Alberta, to increase minimum wage to $14.

The long-term effects of the minimum wage increase remain to be seen, but the early impact of the increases has led to employers cutting staff hours, raising prices or looking to automation to make the numbers work.

The general minimum wage is $14 per hour but there are also some exceptions to the general minimum wage:

January 1, 2018 January 1, 2019
General minimum wage: $14.00 $15.00
Student minimum wage: $13.15 $14.10
Liquor servers minimum wage: $12.20 $13.05
Hunting and fishing guide minimum wage: $70.00-140.00 $75.00-150.00
Home workers wage $15.40 $16.50

Reforms to the Employment Standards Act

In addition to the increase in Ontario’s minimum wage the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs” Act introduced several other workplace legislation reforms. The changes that this new legislation brings to the Employment standards Act are the biggest changes since 2000.

  • Reforms to the way temp agencies schedule, assign and terminate temporary workers
  • Regulations around employees being misclassified as “independent contractors”
  • New standards for employee vacation time and pay
  • Simplifying the calculation for vacation pay
  • Reforms to different types of leaves like: emergencies, domestic or sexual violence, loss of pregnancy, critical illness, family medical, parental
  • Increased fines for employer non-compliance
  • Increased access and protections for employers to join and form labour unions

Unemployment rate

In 2017 the Canadian unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since the 1970s. The last three months of 2017 saw consistent increases in job creation with 176,000 jobs created in Ontario and nearly all of the growth in full-time jobs. The year ended with an unemployment rate of 5.7%. While the unemployment rate went back up slightly in January (to 5.9%), it is still well below the unemployment rate in January 2017 (6.8%). Here is how the unemployment rate has looked for the last 13 months:

Month Unemployment Rate
Jan ’18 5.9%
Dec ’17 5.7%
Nov ’17 5.9%
Oct ’17 6.3%
Sep ’17 6.2%
Aug ’17 6.2%
Jul ’17 6.3%
Jun ’17 6.5%
May ’17 6.6%
Apr ’17 6.5%
Mar ’17 6.7%
Feb ’17 6.6%
Jan ’17 6.8%

CASL review

In July 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect. The stated goal of CASL is to limit the amount of unwanted email that Canadians receive by regulating the way that Canadian businesses send commercial emails. Since then, most Canadian businesses are expected to follow strict compliance policies or face fines by the CRTC, Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

In December 2017 the first review of CASL by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology was released with the title “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: Clarifications are in Order”. The report outlines many of the key areas where businesses are struggling to comply with or interpret the legislation and makes a set of 13 recommendations including:

  • Changing the name of the act to the “Electronic Commerce Protections Act”
  • Clarifying the definition of “Commercial Electronic Messages”
  • Clarifying the definition of “implied consent” and “express consent”
  • Reconsidering the implementation of the Right to Private Action (which would allow individuals to sue businesses for damages), and the burden of proof for damages
  • Creating greater transparency in the methods and investigatory techniques used by the regulatory agencies involved with CASL

Further Reading

Fairer Workplaces, Better Jobs Press Release
Fairer Workplaces, Better Jobs Bill
Changing Workplaces Report
Employment standards Act
Statistics Canada December 2017
Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology CASL Report

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