Ontario Chamber concerned about labour review

Major suggested changes to labour legislation would impact competitiveness.

September 17, 2015

TORONTO — The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has called on the province to avoid proposals that would substantially affect competitiveness, jobs and the economy.

Timed to coincide with the final consultations of the Wynne government’s Changing Workplaces Review, the OCC and more than 30 chambers of commerce and boards of trade have released their submission, which expresses concern over previous deputations under consideration.

The OCC says many of those recommendations would result in significant changes to the Employments Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, increasing the cost of doing business in Ontario.

“Ontario’s employers face mounting costs as the result of a new mandatory pension plan, rising electricity rates, and some of the highest workplace safety insurance premiums in the country,” said Allan O’Dette, president and CEO of the OCC.

“Before making any changes to provincial labour laws, government must consider the impact these changes would have on Ontario’s competitiveness. These additional proposals could add to the cumulative burden, impacting jobs and the economy.”

The consultations have considered how the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and Employment Standards Act, 2000 should be amended to reflect changes to the nature of work that have occurred over the past 20 years.

Included in OCC’s 14 recommendations are three key points.

The business groups urge caution concerning sector exemptions currently included in the Employment Standards Act (ESA). It wants the exemptions, which it says often reflect the unique nature of certain sectors, to be maintained but some groups want them all abolished.

Some groups are calling for provisions in the ESA that would require employers to post work schedules two weeks in advance. This is not feasible for all sectors, says the OCC. It notes manufacturers must constantly adjust production in order to meet demand.

The OCC submission calls for a transparent process for union certification rules to be maintained. The government review is considering a proposal to allow Ontario workers to unionize by simply signing a union card, and removing the requirement for a secret vote.

Currently, the process to unionize involves an application demonstrating at least 40% support among workers followed by a supervised secret ballot vote.

“The secret vote is an essential component of a democratic and transparent union certification process,” said O’Dette. “It provides workers with the opportunity to make decisions free of interference and external pressures.”

Click here to read OCC’s Changing Workplaces Review.


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