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Ontario passes work-life balance protection act


Ontario has passed a new bill to protect the rights of workers across the province.

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On November 30, the Ontario government announced that it had officially passed the Working for Workers Act of 2021, which aims to promote a healthier work-life balance.

The passing of the bill makes Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to make it easier for employees to relax when not working, and the first jurisdiction in Canada to ban non-compete agreements.

“Our government is working for workers every day to help them earn bigger paycheques, stay safe, and have better opportunities,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“We are determined to rebalance the scales and put workers in the driver’s seat of Ontario’s economic growth while attracting the best workers to our great province.  Ontario is ensuring our labour laws keep pace with the acceleration of new technology, automation, and remote work.”

The act now requires:

– Employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday to help employees spend more time with their families,

– Ban the use of non-compete agreements that prevent people from exploring other work opportunities in order to make it easier for workers to advance in their careers,

– Help remove barriers, such as Canadian experience requirements, for internationally trained individuals to get licenced in a regulated profession and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills,

– Require recruiters and temporary help agencies to have a licence to operate in the province to help protect vulnerable employees from being exploited,

– Require business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company’s washroom if they are delivering or picking up items. This supports the delivery drivers, couriers and truck drivers who have kept our essential supplies and economy going throughout the pandemic,

– Allow surpluses in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Insurance Fund to be distributed over certain levels to businesses, helping them cope with the impacts of COVID-19,

– Enable the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to work with entities, like the Canada Revenue Agency, to streamline remittances for businesses, enabling a way to give them an efficient one-stop-shop for submitting premiums and payroll deductions,

– Allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to collect information related to the agri-food workforce to ensure the government can enhance the coordination of services such as vaccination and testing, and respond to any issues that may arise.

In September 2021, 29 per cent of people (aged 15 to 69) in Ontario who worked at least half their usual hours worked from home, the highest percentage of any province in Canada.

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