Ontario is changing labour laws
If Labour Act 2021 is passed, the province will pioneer changes to working conditions across Canada.
The Ontario government has decided to make the province a better place to work in Canada. They are going to take steps to protect, attract and support employees given the changes in working conditions due to the pandemic.
On October 25, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Development, introduced the draft Labour Act 2021 for employees.
The minister has previously made statements that the government will assist foreign professionals trained in Canada to find work. He also talked about protection for temporary workers. All of these changes are part of a larger bill.
But Monte McNaughton also suggests:
- Require employers with 25 or more employees to pay more attention to employees' mental health and time off with their families. For example, this implies that an employee may not respond to emails and notifications outside of work.
- Prohibit the use of non-competition agreements when hiring employees. These agreements restrict employees from wanting to get a job after dismissal with a company in the same field. The changes will now not interfere with career progression.
- Remove barriers to licensing and employment for foreign professionals trained in Canada.
- Require agencies and recruiters to be licensed to ensure decent working conditions for temporary employees.
- Require business owners to provide sufficient comfort for delivery workers.
- Authorize distribution of surplus Workplace Safety and Insurance Board insurance fund to businesses for pandemic response.
- Allow the Workplace Safety and Insurance Council to work with organizations such as the Canada Revenue Agency to streamline remittances for businesses. The goal is to provide an efficient one-stop shop for filing insurance premiums and payroll deductions.
- Allow the Ministry of Agriculture to collect information on employees in this area so that the government can improve the provision of vaccination and testing.
Also as part of this bill, the Ontario government is going to improve and expand the transportation network, broadband Internet and virtual health care. The goal of these transformations is to create a better environment for residents to work perfectly.
Ontario is going to invest $84 billion CAD in the transportation network over the next 10 years. This will reform the outdated subway system, rail service, and expand and repair provincial highways and bridges.
With regard to upgrading Internet access, the pandemic has clearly shown how acute the issue is. An estimated 700,000 households in remote and rural communities do not have access to the standard 50/10 Mbps internet speed. Therefore, the government has decided to invest almost $4 billion CAD. These funds will be distributed to underserved and unserved areas in Eastern, Southwestern and Northern Ontario. The plan will be implemented by the end of 2025.
Virtual health care has also shown its qualities in the pandemic. Since the service was introduced, more than 29,000 physicians have provided at least one virtual session. The rapid introduction of regional and provincial support has reduced the burden on medical organizations. Now the government intends to further realize the potential of this area.
According to Minister McNaughton, the government's approach to labour legislation has been largely influenced by the pandemic. The new bill shows how interested Ontario is in creating an environment for new professionals.
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