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Ontario: Working for Workers Act, 2023 Is Now in Effect

Toronto skyline from the water.

​On Oct. 26, Ontario's Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023 (Bill 79), received Royal Assent and took effect. The statutes amended by Bill 79 include the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA).

ESA Amendments

Bill 79 made the following amendments to the ESA:

  • Expansion of Reservists Leave. Bill 79 expands eligibility for Reservist Leave by providing such leave to recover from a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency that results from participation in a military operation or training. Bill 79 also reduces the eligibility period from three to two months of consecutive employment.
  • Employees working in private residences eligible for enhanced notice provided in mass terminations (50+ employees). Bill 79 provides that when determining whether there has been a mass termination (that is, whether employment of 50+ employees has been terminated) at an employer's "establishment," the "location at which the employer carries on business," will include an employee's private residence provided the employee performs work there and does not perform work at any other location where the employer carries on business. Bill 79 also provides that in addition to posting a notice of mass termination in the establishment, employers must provide notice to each affected employee.
  • License application provisions. Bill 79 amends the license application provisions in Part XVIII.1 of the ESA (Temporary Help Agencies and Recruiters) to include references to Subsection 7(3) of the EPFNA, which prohibits a person acting on behalf of a recruiter from collecting a fee charged by the recruiter in contravention of subsection 7(1). Subsection 7(1) of the EPFNA prohibits recruiters from directly or indirectly charging the foreign national a fee for any service, good or benefit provided to them in connection with their employment.
  • Authority to make regulations. Bill 79 authorizes the government to make regulations to prescribe information that must be provided to "employees and prospective employees" regarding rates of pay, work location and hours of work.

OHSA Amendment

Bill 79 amends the OHSA by increasing the fine for corporations convicted of an offense under the OHSA from CAN $1.5 million to CAN $2 million.

EPFNA Amendments

Bill 79 amends the EPFNA to provide that the Ontario Labor Relations Board must reduce the penalty set out in a notice of contravention where certain conditions apply. The bill also establishes higher maximum fines for a conviction relating to contraventions of subsection 9(1) or (2) of the EPFNA with respect to a passport or work permit. These provisions prohibit employers and recruiters of foreign nationals and persons working on their behalf from taking possession of, or retaining, property the foreign national is entitled to possess—for example, a passport or work permit.

Rhonda B. Levy and Monty Verlint are attorneys with Littler in Toronto. © 2023 Littler. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.


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