Home Featured Ontario’s latest ‘Working for Workers’ legislation receives Royal Assent, contains critical changes

Ontario’s latest ‘Working for Workers’ legislation receives Royal Assent, contains critical changes

by HR Law Canada

Ontario has passed the Working for Workers Four Act, 2024, marking a substantial shift in the province’s labour and employment laws.

“By putting workers first, we are filling the labour shortage, incentivizing employers to create more local jobs and helping more workers land a better job with a bigger paycheque,” said David Piccini, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and SKills Development. “With our fourth Working for Workers Act, we continue to lead the country in ground-breaking protections for workers.”

The legislation, which received Royal Assent on March 21, 2024, introduces significant amendments across various statutes, touching on digital platform workers’ rights, employment standards, regulated professions, and workplace safety and insurance.

Protections for firefighters

Key initiatives under the new legislation include enhanced protections for firefighters and fire investigators, specifically a reduction in the required service period for esophageal cancer compensation from 25 to 15 years. This amendment aims to provide better cancer coverage for those in the firefighting profession.

Wage protection in restaurant, hospitality sector

Additionally, the act strengthens wage protections in the restaurant, hospitality, and service sectors. It addresses wage deductions related to customer thefts, such as dine and dashes, ensuring that employees’ wages remain intact in such scenarios.

Moreover, the act mandates that employers disclose any participation in tip pools and allows employees to choose the direct deposit account for their tips, enhancing transparency and fairness in tip distribution.

Banning Canadian work experience

The legislation also sets a precedent by banning the requirement of Canadian work experience in job postings, a first in Canada. This move is intended to open up the job market, particularly in healthcare and other high-demand sectors, to qualified candidates regardless of their local experience. It builds on previous initiatives to eliminate discriminatory work experience requirements in regulated professions.

Salary ranges and use of AI

Other notable measures include easing the path for international students to participate in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and requiring employers to disclose salary ranges and the use of artificial intelligence in hiring processes in job postings. These changes aim to foster a more transparent and inclusive job market.

Assessing international qualifications

The act also seeks to improve the transparency and fairness of how regulated professions assess international qualifications, ensuring that third-party assessments meet clear standards. Additionally, it clarifies the requirements for vacation pay, ensuring employees understand the conditions under which they are paid.

‘Super indexing’ for WSIB

For injured workers, the act introduces provisions for “super indexing,” allowing for increases to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits above the annual rate of inflation, enhancing support for those unable to work due to injuries.

Complementing the legislative changes, the Ontario government has announced plans to launch consultations aimed at restricting the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in cases of workplace sexual harassment and exploring options for a new job-protected leave for critical illnesses, aligning with the 26-week federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits.

These reforms build on the province’s previous efforts through the Working for Workers Acts of 2021, 2022, and 2023, demonstrating Ontario’s commitment to improving labour conditions and supporting the workforce.

Breaking down the changes in more detail

The Ontario government provided the following breakdown, including links to past press releases for more information:

To complement the new legislation, Ontario is also launching consultations to identify legislative options to restrict the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in the settlement of cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence, while protecting the rights of victims and survivors.

It will also consult on options to create a new, job-protected leave for critical illnesses (like cancer) to match the length of the 26-week federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits.

“These changes expand on the historic measures in the Working for Workers Acts, 20212022 and 2023, which are helping millions of people in Ontario earn bigger paycheques and supporting newcomers in building the province,” said Piccini.

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