Bill 148 – Barely Here and Now Gone

Following their election promise, the Ontario Conservative government tabled Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, on October 23, 2018. Bill 47 includes a major repeal of Bill 148 and its prior changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995. This new bill will reverse many changes already in effect under Bill 148, as well as put a stop to further changes that were to have come into force on January 1, 2019.

This article provides a summary of Bill 47 and the changes, to date, to be made to Bill 148.

Essential changes to Bill 148 and the Employment Standards Act, 2000 include:

  • Call-in minimum pay at three hours retained, but on-call payment requirements and the ability to refuse on-call assignments removed;
  • Minimum wage frozen at $14.00 an hour until October 1, 2020, with any further increases to be subject to an annual inflation adjustment;
  • Employment status pay equity repealed. No further requirement for Ontario businesses to equalize pay for part-time, seasonal and casual employees with their full-time equivalents;
  • Limited and new personal emergency leave – reduced from 10 to eight days in total and all unpaid (three for personal illness, three for family emergencies and two bereavement days);
  • Repeal of employee requests for scheduling and work location changes after hire/employment;
  • Employers can again request a medical note from the employee to support their absence; and
  • Contractors will again have the legal onus to prove a claim of an employment relationship.

But, no changes to:

  • extra week of paid vacation after 5 years of service;
  • The new paid leave for domestic and sexual violence leave; and
  • Confirmation of return to prior public holiday pay formula.

Essential changes to labour provisions of Bill 148 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995:

  • Repealed option of unions to obtain a list of employees from an employer that is potentially subject to a certification drive;
  • Repealed changes to remedial certification by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in the event of an unfair labour practice occurring during the certification application/vote process permitting option of a re-vote (again); and
  • Repealed card-based union certification process in the building services, home care, community services and temp-help industries.

However, union successor rights are retained in the event of change of service providers for building cleaning services, food services and security services (but no other businesses to be added).

The timeline for the repeal of Bill 148 is not known, but with the Ontario legislature scheduled to sit until December 13, 2018, and with a sizable majority, Bill 47 and the resulting reversals are expected to pass prior to January 1, 2019, which is when the next round of Bill 148 changes would have come into effect.