Bill 66 Receives Royal Assent

Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.   The omnibus bill amended numerous statutes affecting a variety of industries, including labour and employment legislation. 

The most significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) are: (i) the elimination of the requirement to obtain approval from the Ministry of Labour before entering into overtime averaging agreements or permitting employees to work more than 48 hours in a week; and (ii) the elimination of the requirement to post the employment standards poster in the workplace.  In addition, for an overtime averaging agreement to be valid, the agreement must specify a start date and end date, and the period of time over which the employee’s hours may be averaged must not exceed four weeks.  These amendments to the ESA are already in effect.

One of the most significant changes impacting broader public sector employers is that certain designated broader public sector employers, including municipalities, school boards, universities and colleges, and hospitals, will be deemed to be “non-construction employers” for the purposes of the Labour Relations Act, 1995.   This means that designated employers will no longer be bound by construction industry collective agreements and will be able to tender construction projects to non-union employers.  The Ontario government has not decided when this amendment will come into force. 

If a non-construction employer wishes to remain bound by their construction industry collective agreement(s), they may elect to irrevocably opt out by filing an election with the Minister of Labour if the following pre-conditions are met: 

  • A trade union represents employees of the employer who are employed/may be employed in the construction industry on April 3, 2019;
  • The election must be made in writing by a person or body with authority to bind the entity; and
  • The election must be filed within three (3) months of April 3, 2019.

If you have any questions as to how Bill 66 may impact your workplace, please contact the firm.