Ontario Employment Law


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Amendments to Labour Relations Act Receives Royal Assent

By Yosie Saint-Cyr, Editor at HRinfodesk---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law, June 2005

On Monday June 13, 2005, Bill 144, the Labour Relations Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005 received Royal Assent and came into force immediately. Sections of the Act relating to the special bargaining and dispute resolution regime for the residential construction sector are retroactive to May 1, 2005.

Bill 144 was passed on the last day of the Parliamentary session, and was the focus of harsh criticism from the labour movement. According to the government, the amendments in the Bill restore balance by repealing unnecessary and provocative measures such as the requirement that unionized businesses post information on union decertification and that unions disclose salaries. It also returns powers to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) so it can more effectively redress serious violations of the Labour Relations Act. However, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the United Steelworkers’ Unions object to the legislation because it gives the OLRB the power to certify trade unions in the construction industry without a representation vote where at least 55% of the employees in the bargaining unit are members of the union. They claim that "this change, which favours one group of well-paid workers, is fundamentally sexist and does nothing to improve the ability of mostly women to exercise their right to join a union. Changes which provides significant assistance to workers in the mostly-male construction industry, offers no assistance to Ontario’s most vulnerable workers, including women, who often work in low-paid service and industrial sectors." A human rights complaint by the union on behalf of workers discriminated against in Bill 144 is planned.

Specifically, as of June 13, 2005:

  • Employers are no longer required to post decertification information in all unionized workplaces, and unions no longer have to disclose the name, salary and benefits of all directors, officers and employees earning $100,000 or more a year. Employees continue to have reasonable access to union certification or decertification information. Employers have 30 days from the date the Bill is in force to cease posting and distributing this information.
  • Power is restored to the Ontario Labour Relation Board (OLRB) to order "remedial certification" in the face of unfair labour practices during an organizing drive if no other remedy would be sufficient to counter the effects of the contravention. For example, the OLRB will now be able, as a last resort, to grant union certification when an employer violates labour laws, or dismiss a certification application when a union violates the law.
  • A card-based certification system is re-established for the construction sector in addition to the existing vote system. The card-based system will permit automatic union certification in the construction sector if more than 55 percent of employees sign cards to join a union.
  • The special bargaining and dispute resolution regime set up in 2001 for residential construction in the Toronto area is made permanent to prevent consecutive strikes from paralyzing the homebuilding industry (as happened in 1998).
  • For more information on Bill 144, go to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.

    By Yosie Saint-Cyr, Editor at HRinfodesk

    Published on HRinfodesk---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law and Developments

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