Earlier today, Ontario passed legislation amending three separate acts that will have a significant impact on employers – the move will effectively strengthen and protect employee rights across the province.
The Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015, amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the Fire Prevention and Protection Act and the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act.
According to the Ministry of Labour, the changes will:
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- Allow Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) survivor benefits to be calculated based on the average earnings, at the time of diagnosis, of the deceased worker's occupation rather than the current legislated minimum, which will potentially increase the amount of support survivors receive.
- Prohibit employers from trying to prevent workers reporting workplace injury or illness to the WSIB by making it an offence to do so.
- Increase maximum corporate penalties from $100,000 to $500,000 for conviction of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act such as knowingly providing a false or misleading statement to the Board or wilfully failing to inform the Board of a material change in circumstance in connection with an obligation of the employer under the Act within 10 days of the change.
- Require the WSIB Board of Directors to appoint a Fair Practices Commissioner to act as an ombudsman for injured workers, employers and WSIB service providers
- Help reduce the potential for disruption and delay for workers in the broader public sector when there are changes to bargaining units following certain events such as amalgamations or restructurings
- Provide more dispute resolution tools for the professional fire services sector by allowing labour relations disputes to be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board as opposed to the Ontario Courts