Top Employer News From 2018

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It’s the new year and the 2018 fiscal year is drawing to an end. Here is a recap of some of the key changes and developments to employment law and the labour market that occurred in 2018.

Minimum wage

On November 21, 2018 the “Making Ontario Open for Business Act” was assented to and passed into law. The act repeals and amends several sections of the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” that was introduced into legislation last fall.

One of changes in the previous “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” introduced was an unprecedented increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage rose from $11.60 per hour to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 with a second a second increase scheduled for January 1, 2019 that would see the minimum wage increase to $15 per hour and a further annual increase planned that would tie minimum wage to the rate of inflation beginning on January 1, 2020.

The “Making Ontario Open for Business Act” repealed the scheduled increases and held the current minimum wage at $14/hour until September 30, 2020.

Minimum wage can vary based on the type of work a person does, to see the full schedule of minimum wage rates in Ontario, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/minimum-wage

Employment Standards Act

Although minimum wage was the most visible change created by the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act”, the act also made changes to the Employment Standards Acts–one of the main pieces of legislation that governs the labour laws in Ontario. Some of these key changes include:

Scheduling

  • Right for employee to request scheduling changes, repealed
  • Minimum of three hours pay for a shift or cancelled shift, repealed
  • Right for employee to refuse work without 96 hours’ notice, repealed

Personal Emergency Leave

  • Current 10 days of leave including 2 paid days, replaced with up to 8 unpaid days (3 days personal illness + 2 days bereavement + 3 family responsibility)
  • Right for employee to not be asked for a medical note, repealed

Public Holiday Pay

  • Reverting to previous prorated holiday pay formula

Equal pay for Equal Work

  • On the basis of employment status, repealed
  • On the basis of assignment employee status, repealed

Misclassification

  • “Reverse Onus”–where the employer must prove an employee did not work for them in the event of a dispute, repealed

Penalties and Fines

  • Reverting to lower fines

Ontario Trades System

Another change created by the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” were reforms to the way trades and apprenticeships are run in Ontario. Some of these changes include:

  • Lowering the ratios of journeyperson-to-apprentice to 1:1
  • Removing current process for trade classification and reclassification
  • Removing low-volume trades

The Ontario College of Trades is also set to be wound down and replaced with a new system at some point in early 2019.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate hit record lows in November 2018 and held steady at 5.6% in December. This is the lowest the Canadian unemployment rate has been since measuring began. While employment grew in 2018 compared to 2017, the rate of growth (0.9%) was slower than in 2017 (2.3%). Full-time employment continued to grow in 2018 by 1.2% while part-time employment held steady compared to 2017.

In Ontario the unemployment rate in December 2018 was even lower at 5.44%.

The industries that saw the most employment gains were service industries; Transportation, Warehousing and Educational Services. While industries like Wholesale and Retail trade; Information, Culture and Recreation; Manufacturing; and Finance all saw employment decreases.

Further Reading

Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018
Joint message from Ontario College of Trades and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities on changes to Ontario’s skilled trades system
Ontario Minimum wage schedule
Labour Force Survey, December 2018

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