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Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019, Receives Royal Assent

April 5, 2019

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”3445″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019—the most recent piece of legislation to modify employment and labour standards in Ontario—received Royal Assent

on April 3, 2019. Bill 66 makes a range of notable amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (“LRA”) and the Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”).

Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000

While Bill 66 makes only a few changes to the ESA, they will be significant for many employers:

Excess Hours and Overtime Averaging Agreements: Employers will no longer require approval from the Director of Employment Standards to enter into agreements with employees to work hours in excess of the 48 hour maximum per work week set out in the ESA. Neither will they require approval for overtime averaging arrangements that allow employers to average an employee’s hours over several weeks for the purpose of determining whether or not an employee is entitled to overtime pay.

Bill 66 also provides that overtime averaging agreements can be made for a maximum of two years for non-union employees. For union employees subject to a collective agreement, overtime averaging agreements are permitted to be made and remain effective until a new collective agreement is reached between the parties. An overtime averaging agreement that was made under the previous requirements, prior to Bill 66 coming in to force, will remain effective until the earlier of its expiration or revocation by the employer, employee or Director of Employment Standards.

Employment Standards Poster: Employers will no longer be required to post a copy of the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace. Employers will still be required to provide a copy of the Employment Standards poster to employees.

The changes to the ESA came in to force upon Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.

Changes to the Labour Relations Act, 1995

Bill 66 also modifies the LRA by deeming a number of public sector employers such as hospitals, school boards, universities and municipal governments to be “non-construction employers”. This will mean that the construction industry provisions of the LRA would no longer apply to these employers and unions trying to become certified bargaining agents in these sectors will no longer have access to card-based certification. This amendment to the LRA will come in to force on a future date to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Bill 66 also provides that for three months, certain employers have the option of opting out of this provision by making an election with the Minister. The opt-out provision came in to force upon Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.

Changes to the Pension Benefits Act

Bill 66 also repeals section 80.4(1) of the PBA, meaning that for private sector employers, the conversion of single employer pension plans to jointly sponsored pension plans implemented through a transfer of assets and liabilities will no longer be limited to those pension plans prescribed by the PBA regulations. Therefore, private sector employers will no longer require specific regulation under the PBA to make such conversions. This change is similar to the changes to the ESA respecting overtime in that it removes administrative hurdles for employers. The changes to the PBA came in to effect upon Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.

As always, we will keep you updated on any other important legislative developments that might affect your business. For more information on Bill 66, contact us at info@williamshrlaw.com.

This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.

This information is not intended as legal advice.