New Ontario Legislation: Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023

Passport with coffee.

The Ontario Government has announced new amendments to various pieces of workplace legislation. We discussed one such change in our blog post last week. Further details have become available due to the introduction of Bill 79, the Working for Workers Act, 2023. The third in a trilogy of Working for Workers bills which we covered in previous blog posts here and here.

The latest Working for Workers Act, 2023, i.e., Bill 79, amends the following pieces of legislation:

The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (“EPFNA”)

The EPFNA is amended to include a higher penalty for withholding the passport or work permit of a foreign national employed in Canada. Individuals convicted of withholding any such document may be liable for fines of up to $500,000 and/or imprisonment for 12 months. Corporations may be liable for up to $1,000,000 for violation of the same.

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)

The ESA will be amended, as discussed in our previous blog post, to include private employee residences as a “location at which an employer carries on business” for the purposes of determining eligibility to mass termination notice entitlements. In essence, if the conditions are met, employers will need to count any employees working from home when determining whether they have met the threshold for mass termination notice requirements. As the ESA currently stands, employers who terminate the employment of 50 or more employees in an establishment in a four-week period are required to give additional notice of termination.

In addition, reservist leave, which entitles employees to a leave of absence to serve in the Canadian Forces, is added to include leave to attend treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation in “respect of a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency that results from participation in an operation or activity”. In essence, this is an expansion of reservist leave eligibility. Reservist leave in Ontario is unpaid leave.

Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”)

This OHSA is amended to include an increase maximum fine to corporations convicted of violating the OHSA. The new maximum is raised from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.

As with the previous Working for Workers acts proposed and passed by the Ontario government, it is certain that Bill 79 will be enacted and become law in short order. We’re not expecting significant further modifications, but we’ll certainly be posting about them if they come up.

At Bridge Legal & HR Solutions we can help you untangle and understand the web of obligations that applies to your employment relationships. To find out how we can help, contact us through our contact form or call us at 647-794-5442.

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