Legal Calendar 2015

Welcome to 2015 – How will the Ontario workplace change this year?

Ontario’s workforce is ever-changing as our economy grows and new markets expand. As a result, employment laws need to be reviewed on a regular basis. Government regulations must reflect the needs of Ontario’s workers and protect the province’s labour force. Employers need to be held to a high standard of ethics and compliance in order to maintain stability in the Ontario job market.

Several significant changes, known as Bill 18, were pushed through in 2014 and will start to have a positive impact on the Ontario workplace as the year unfolds. The amendments include changes to several regulatory statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

As of October of 2015, minimum wage increases will be directly tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This will help to determine a fair wage based on the cost of living in Ontario. The CPI is a calculation that measures changes in the cost of goods and services purchased by Canadian households. Each year, the CPI will be released, and the modified minimum wage will be announced in April. The new wage will take effect on October 1st, giving employers plenty of time to prepare for the changes in their labour budget. In 2015, General Minimum Wage will be increased from $11 per hour to $11.25. Exceptions apply for students, liquor servers, and home workers.

Temporary agencies will be held accountable. Currently over 130,000 individuals in Ontario are employed through temporary employment agencies. Many companies have turned to these agencies as an affordable and convenient staffing solution, but this arrangement has the potential to create an unstable employment situation for the workers involved. In the past, temp employees were advised to contact their agency if they needed to call in sick, report issues with their employer, or any other workplace-related concern. However, employment agencies have very little contact with their workers once they have been placed, leaving the employees feeling stuck in a difficult situation and unsure where to turn. Starting this year, both the temp agency and the employer themselves will share equal responsibility for the handling the employee’s human resources issues.

Those who stood for change are satisfied to see the advancements in Ontario’s employment laws. Our workers are the backbone of the provincial economy, and their safety and financial well-being are essential to keep Ontario moving in the right direction.