Bill 66: The Ford government continues its attack on workers
The so-called Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (“Bill 66”) is an omnibus Bill which, if passed, will amend several pieces of legislation covering a wide range of issues.
Following closely on the heels of the enactment of Bill 47, which erased many of the legislative gains achieved through Bill 148, Bill 66 continues the Ontario government’s attack on working people across the province.
Contrary to the Ontario government’s claim that this Bill will allow businesses to create “good jobs,” the proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995 would in fact intensify precarious employment and eliminate protections for thousands of Ontario workers.
Bill 66 would also amend certain provisions of the Education Act, although it is difficult to tell what the impact of these amendments would be.
Ryan Newell has looked at some of the provisions of Bill 66. You can read his analysis here [see also the update below]
UPDATE: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Bill 66 passed third reading. Some amendments were made to Bill 66 before it was passed. Ryan Newell summarizes those amendments here:
On April 2, the Ontario government passed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019 (“Bill 66”) which amends several pieces of legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Education Act. While Bill 66 has now been passed in the legislature, it will not take effect until it receives Royal Assent.
When Bill 66 was first introduced in December 2018, we summarized its implications for labour and employment law here. We will not rehash our original commentary because many of the Bill’s relevant provisions did not undergo any change through the legislative process. In this brief update, we provide a high-level of summary of the key aspects of the Bill from a labour and employment law perspective, and highlight a couple of the amendments made to the Bill since it was first introduced.
The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Todd Smith, claimed in the legislature immediately before its enactment that Bill 66 would “reduce the cost to business owners by $400 million.” While the omnibus Bill has wide-ranging impacts on a long list of statutes, we know that some portion of that $400M gift from the Conservatives to business will come out of the pockets of Ontario’s workers as they work longer hours for less money.
Employment Standards Act, 2000
Under the pretense of removing “red tape,” Bill 66 will make it easier for employers to force their employees to enter into excessive hours of work agreements and overtime averaging agreements, while no longer requiring employers to post notices in their workplaces about workers’ basic statutory rights.
Labour Relations Act, 1995
Bill 66 also amends the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to effectively eliminate construction trade unions’ bargaining rights with certain public entities, such as municipalities, hospitals, universities and colleges. Construction industry collective agreements to which those entities were previously bound will become null and void. This will be accomplished by deeming certain entities to be “non-construction employers.”
An amendment introduced in committee expands the list of entities deemed to be “non-construction employers” to include social services boards established under the District Social Services Administration Boards Act.
Another amendment introduced in committee allows a public entity which would otherwise be deemed to be a “non-construction employer” to opt out of the application of the new provision. In order to meet the requirements for opting out, an employer must have employees employed in the construction industry or employees who may be employed in the construction industry who are represented by a trade union. The employer must also file its election in writing with the Minister within 3 months of the date that Bill 66 receives Royal Assent.