While new Ontario labour laws came into effect in January 2018, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will need time to make them operational. Hiring 175 new inspectors is the foremost example.
The Labour Issues Coordinating Committee (LICC) has reviewed concerns with the MOL about the implications of the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act and the Employment Standards Act. Ken Linington, policy advisor, LICC, reports the following key findings:
• Using the poster is a great start. It happens to be version 7.0, so growers will need to take the old one down and replace with this new one. Go to this link for download: www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pdf/es_poster_2018_1.pdf
• A new Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act (FWBJA) was used to update and add new features to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) which has been around for many years. Different features of the Act begin at different times.
• The most significant item was the increase in minimum wage ($14/hour) which began January 1, 2018.
• Acts identify the key principles or features planned by government, while Regulations tend to focus on how the principles will be implemented or identify any exemptions or special rules. Regulation 285 supports the Employment Standards Act and includes a number of exemptions and special rules that apply to various industry sectors, including agriculture. Agriculture has four job categories and there are many standards. It is a complex Act with many Regulations and each Regulation has many sections. It is hard to simplify, because it is not simple.
• The new standards found in the FWBJA will not be part of Reg. 285 exemptions or special rules. So, new standards will apply to farming.
• The "Guide to the ESA" is kept current and posted on line (www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0). It is 130 pages, but it has a good index and uses plain language. It is the best way for producers to understand the various standards and how they will be implemented. For example, one of the new standards that came into effect January 1, 2018 is the Personal Emergency Leave (10 days a year with the first two days paid). There is a good description of the "leave" and how it will be implemented found in the Guide to the ESA. Before Jan. 1, 2018 it applied to employers with 50+ workers, but now it applies to all employers. The large majority of OFVGA growers will be below 50 workers and will be wondering how to implement the standard. They can take the section in the Guide and use it directly and can share it with workers.
• Education and training of the new standards will occur in a variety of ways over time and will be part of the role of the new staff.