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Littler LLP: George Vassos, Rhonda Levy

Ontario, Canada: Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, receives royal assent

On November 21, 2018, Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, received Royal Assent, repealing a number of amendments made to Ontario labour and employment law. Bill 47 effectively reverses certain changes made by a law enacted last year—Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017. That law significantly amended Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), Labour Relations Act, 1995 (OLRA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  Most Bill 148 amendments took effect by April 1, 2018, with the remaining amendments to the ESA scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019.  

The version of Bill 47 that passed Third Reading and received Royal Assent is almost the same version as the one introduced on October 23, 2018.  A more detailed discussion of the changes Bill 47 makes can be found here. The most significant amendment to Bill 47 since First Reading involves section 15.1 of the LRA, which addressed the circumstances in which the Ontario Labour Review Board (OLRB) may review the structure of bargaining units.  When originally introduced, the intention was for Bill 47 to:

  • Repeal the power of the OLRB to review and consolidate newly certified bargaining units with existing bargaining units; and
  • Provide the OLRB with a more general power when certain conditions are met. 

When the final version of Bill 47 received Royal Assent, the more general review power of the OLRB was deleted and section 15.1 of the LRA was repealed, thereby eliminating the OLRB’s power to review the structure of bargaining units.

Bill 47’s changes to the ESA come into force on January 1, 2019.1 The changes to the LRA came into force on Royal Assent (i.e., on November 21, 2018).2  Employers would be well advised to review hiring letters, employment contracts, policies and collective agreements to determine what amendments can and should be made in light of Bill 47.

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