ITAC: Final Report of the Ontario Changing Workplaces Review

This morning, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour released the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review. You can find a summary of the report here and full document here.

The report includes 173 recommendations for changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Labour Relations Act aimed at reducing negative and precarious employment situations. Highlights are listed below my signature.

For the Ontario ICT industry, the big issue is the current exemption in the ESA for “IT Professionals” on hours of work and overtime pay. An interim report last summer recommended this exemption be removed without any further review.  In response, ITAC made a submission to the Special Advisors requesting the exemption be carefully studied before any moves are made.

As a result of our advocacy, in the final report the IT Professional exemption is flagged for priority review (pg. 156).

The Ontario Government has stated that they will announce their response to the review within the next two weeks, which may include new legislation.

On the IT Professionals exemption, we understand that a review will most likely happen in Fall 2017. ITAC’s position to date has been that this issue needs to be studied carefully. However, to participate in the review we will need further member input (and data) to create a strong industry position.

If you have questions or would like to help inform an ITAC position on this issue, please connect with David Messer at


Changing Workplaces Review Highlights:

Sectoral Specific Exemptions and Committees: The report proposes a new process for reviewing sector-specific regulatory exemptions, as well as the creation of Sectoral Committees to proactively consider labour laws and standards for specific industries. (ITAC is investigating this proposal)

Vacation: Proposes increasing minimum vacation from 2 weeks a year to 3.

Internships + Trainees: Proposes removing ESA exemptions for interns and trainees.

Independent Contractors: Proposes creating a “Dependent Contractor” definition, for contractors that work almost exclusively for one client, as well as a streamlined process for determining whether a “dependant contractor” should rightfully be classified as an employee.

Temporary/Casual/Seasonal Employees & Temporary Help Agencies: Limiting pay differential between full time and temporary employees to a maximum of 6 months.

  • Limits the amount of time a temporary employee can be terminated and brought back (not less than three months). Take steps to encourage temporary employees are considered for permeant positions.

* BUT includes an income cap for operation of equal treatment requirements (so will likely not impact professional or higher skilled employees).

Union Certification: Proposes requiring an employer to provide a union that can demonstrate 20% support in a workplace with contact details for all additional employees during a union drive. Maintains secret ballot process for certification.

Compliance and Enforcement: Increasing enforcement powers for Ministry of Labour, including tools like strategic litigation.

Director Liability for Employee Remuneration: Amend the ESA so up to six months’ wages and 12 months vacation pay are the responsibility of the directors of a corporation if the employee has not been paid by the corporation.