June 1, 2015
Ontario Legislature Proposes Significant Changes to Ontario’s Workplace Laws
On May 28, 2015 Labour Minister Kevin Flynn introduced Bill 109, the Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015 (“Act”) which, if passed, would create significant amendments to various labour and employment statutes with respect to Injured Workers, Public Sector Workers and Firefighters. The following potential amendments are of significance to employers:
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997
- Providing for survivor benefits to be calculated based on average earnings, at the time of diagnosis, of the deceased worker’s occupation rather than the current legislated minimum. The Board may take into consideration the average earnings at the time of the injury of a person engaged in the same trade, occupation, profession or calling as the worker was engaged in and out of which the injury arose;
- Providing for application of the revised survivor benefit calculations retroactive to January 2, 1998, permitting the refiling of claims, and requiring the Board reconsider decisions, pending and decided appeals at WSIAT and pending claims in light of the new amendments;
- Prohibiting employers from engaging in reprisals against workers for reporting a workplace injury or illness. The amendments also give the Board power to inspect for contraventions of this prohibition; and,
- Increasing maximum corporate penalties from $100,000 to $500,000 for conviction of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
The amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, and specifically the amendments with respect to survivor benefits, have the potential to increase the amount of support families receive, increasing the cost for employers, increasing the direct costs for Schedule 2 employers, adding to premium costs, and adding to the Unfunded Liability in Schedule 1.
Fire Prevention and Protection Act, 1997
- Providing for additional dispute resolution tools, including expedited arbitrations and allowing disputes to be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board rather than the courts;
- Providing new unfair labour practices provisions; and,
- Allowing the Board to exempt firefighters from joining an association or paying association dues for religious reasons.
Public Sector Labour Relations Transitions Act, 1997
- Adding a third exception to the Board’s requirement to hold a representation vote following events such as amalgamations or restructurings.
We believe that Bill 109 contains many significant changes that will affect many employers in the province. If you have any questions about these proposed changes, or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer or CompClaim consultant.
For more information on new developments in Workplace Law, please refer to our website at: http://www.mathewsdinsdale.com/news-events/in-a-flash.
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