Last year the Ontario government initiated the Changing Workplace Review, which it intends as the first step towards identifying potential reforms of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the “LRA”) to better protect workers, while supporting businesses in our changing economy.  Two government-appointed Special Advisors are responsible for carrying out public consultations and preparing an interim report and a final report, with recommendations to the Minister of Labour in relation to both the LRA and the ESA.

On July 27, 2016, the Minister of Labour released the much-anticipated Interim Report, which is based on 12 days of initial public consultation, over 300 written submissions from a variety of stakeholders including employer, labour, employee-advocacy and other groups and individuals, and research papers commissioned by the Review itself.   In the Interim Report, the Special Advisors consider the changing nature of the workforce, the workplace and the economy itself, particularly in light of relevant trends and pressures including, the increase in temporary jobs, part-time work and self-employment; the rising prominence of service sector; the effects of globalization and trade liberalization; and accelerating technological change. They conclude that these various trends and pressures on the workplace “highlight the need for reform of employment standards and labour relations legislation, and especially to provide protection to vulnerable workers and those in precarious work situations.”

The Interim Report identifies approximately 50 issues affecting Ontario’s workplaces and over 225 options of varying size and scope for addressing these issues in the LRA and ESA, including, for each issue, the option of maintaining the status quo.

Given the breadth of the Changing Workplace Review and the number and variety of submissions during the initial consultation process, the Ontario government has launched a second phase of public consultations seeking feedback on the Special Advisors’ Interim Report. Following these consultations, the Special Advisors will provide the government with a final report and recommendations to help inform changes to modernize Ontario’s labour and employment laws.

Feedback on the Interim Report may be provided via e-mail or mail-in submissions.  Submissions specifically related to the subject of Personal Emergency Leave must be completed by August 31, 2016.  The deadline for submissions on all other issues is October 14, 2016.

A Guide to the Interim Report lists issues canvassed by the Special Advisors, including issues that have not yet been the subject of significant public debate or discussion, and gives additional information about how you can provide input on the Interim Report.

We will be publishing a detailed review of the Interim Report in the next day or so.

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