Earlier today, Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review released its interim report, beginning a new round of consultations, which are expected to conclude on October 14, 2016.


The Review is intended to make recommendations for any necessary changes to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act and Employment Standards Act.

The scope of the two pieces of legislation is very broad and attracted over 200 submissions, including a substantial one from the Retail Council of Canada (see here).

What the Interim Report Is and Isn’t:

It is important to understand that the Review’s interim report is not a set of policy proposals from the special advisors to government. Instead, the interim report seeks to categorize the issues and to capture the very wide range of recommendations made in stakeholders’ submissions.

Needless to say, with several hundred submissions from organized labour, business associations, and employee advocacy groups, on a multitude of different legislative provisions, the range of opinion is diverse and often contradictory. In almost all cases, the status quo is also listed as an option.

Several of the recommendations from other stakeholder groups would be highly problematic from a business perspective and some are quite controversial, e.g., a return to card-based certification. Members can therefore expect to see a fair amount of media coverage and it may not be made clear in media that these are still a very long way from being the proposals of the Special Advisors, let alone government policy. As such, these stakeholder recommendations will have no immediate impact on member business operations.

Content of the Interim Report:

Because the interim report is so far-reaching, it is difficult to provide a brief summary.
Areas addressed include the following aspects of the Employment Standards Act:

  • who is the employer/common employers;
  • scheduling;
  • personal emergency leave and paid sick days;
  • part-time and temporary work wages and benefits;
  • temporary help agencies; and
  • written agreements re overtime;

Areas addressed in the Labour Relations Act include:

  • related and joint employers;
  • card-based certification versus secret ballot;
  • successor rights
  • consolidation; and
  • remedial powers of the Ontario Labour Relations Board

The report can be viewed at the following link.

Next Steps:

RCC is engaged at several levels with this process, working to ensure that retailer perspectives are front and centre. Having made a significant submission during hearings in fall 2015, RCC will make a new submission in the next phase of the Review by October 2016. We will be soliciting member viewpoints on the issues identified in the interim report.

We are also engaged in direct discussions with the Ministry of Labour, which will be the government’s lead ministry on making actual policy proposals after receiving the final report of the Special Advisors.

Thirdly, we are aligned with and are working with other business groups, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Restaurants Canada and Canadian Franchise Association, on some matters of common interest, while retaining our own retail-focused voice on matters of particular importance to our industry.

RCC will also be engaging in media on this issue. Members are encouraged to refer any inquires on this issue to Karl Littler, who is RCC primary spokesperson on the topic.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Karl Littler, Vice President, Public Affairs at: [email protected] or 416-467-3783