Making work fairer for all Ontarians

Years of organizing, mobilizing, lobbying, rallying and working with community partners has culminated in sweeping new changes to the laws governing work in Ontario.

On November 22, the Ontario government passed into law the ‘Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act’ (Bill 148).

The new changes will help raise the floor for all workers, particularly those who are most overrepresented in precarious work such as women, young workers, workers of colour, workers with disabilities and those from newcomer communities.

Unifor has been at the forefront of pushing for major legislative changes to address the nature of work today, partnering with the Fight for $15 and Fairness and the Ontario Federation of Labour.  We’re proud of this work and of our shared success.

The more than two-year long Changing Workplaces Review examined both the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts with the stated goal of tackling the growth of precarious, insecure work.

Here’s what the new laws mean for workers:

Raising the standard

  • An increase in the minimum wage to $14 on January 1, 2018 and to $15 on January 1, 2019. This will result in a 29% pay increase for the lowest paid Ontarians over two years.
  • Equal pay for equal work for part-time, temporary and casual workers that are doing substantially the same work as full-time workers.
  • New rights for temporary agency workers. Temp workers must be paid the same wage as the regular/permanent full-time worker doing the same job, and termination notice and termination pay must be given to those workers with more than three months of service.
  • Fairer scheduling practices will mean three hours of pay for on-call duty, protected refusal of shifts with short notice and three hours of pay for cancelled shifts with less than 48 hours of notice.
  • Stronger enforcement and higher fines for employers who violate the law.

Improvements to time off the job

  • Two paid personal emergency leave days, with eight additional unpaid days. It now applies to organizations of all sizes, not just organizations employing 50 people or more.
  • Support for domestic violence survivors that includes five paid days leave for domestic violence survivors and up to a total of 10 days off, plus an additional unpaid, job-protected 15 weeks.
  • Mandatory minimum of three weeks of vacation with five years on the job.
  • Card-based certification in three sectors: temporary help agencies, building services and home care and community services.
  • New rights around joining a union: greater access to lists, off-site and electronic voting, stronger certification powers.
  • Successor rights for building services contracts (cleaning, food services, security) and the ability to extend rules to agencies and institutions receiving public funds.

For a more comprehensive summary, please see the presentation developed by Unifor’s Research Department.

Now that we’ve been successful in winning positive changes for Ontario workers, these new laws can serve as a model for other provinces and federally-regulated sectors! As a union and trade union activists, we must also ensure that we enforce these new rights for all workers. 

Follow the links below to learn more about how to get involved and join the growing global movement for decent work.

Read why CANCEA's analysis of Bill 148 lacks credibility here

Read the letter from Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi on the Ontario Legislative Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Read Unifor’s response to the government’s announcement on new legislation

Read the Changing Workplaces Review Report Summary here

Read Unifor’s response to the final report here

Read this letter from Unifor President Jerry Dias and Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi to Premier Wynne on why we need changes now!

Read the factsheet on predatory employment and temporary workers here.

Watch this video and hear about why these issues matters to temp agency workers.

Read Unifor's full submission to the Ontario Changing Workplace Consultation here.

Read the one page summary of our submission or the PowerPoint Presentation.