OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario to probe changing nature of the modern workplace

February 24, 2015
By Jason Contant
Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety Labour/employment

Province leads consultations on workplace changes

(Canadian OH&S News) — Ontario is set to launch consultations on the changing nature of the modern workplace.

The public consultations, which will be launched in the spring, will focus on how the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act could be amended to protect workers more effectively, while supporting businesses in the changing economy, the provincial Ministry of Labour (MOL) said in a statement.

Workplace trends to be examined include:

  • The increase in non-standard working relationships, such as temporary jobs, part-time work and self-employment;
  • The rising prominence of the service sector;
  • Globalization and trade liberalization;
  • Accelerating technological change; and
  • Greater workplace diversity.

“We are currently developing the plan for the research and analysis that will be undertaken during these consultations,” said MOL spokesperson William Lin, adding that the process and schedule of meetings, including regional public meetings, would be announced in the near future. “Once finalized, details around the consultation process will be posted on the Ministry of Labour website,” Lin said.

The consultations will be led by C. Michael Mitchell, formerly of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, and John Murray, a former justice of the Superior Court of Justice and prominent management labour lawyer. Mitchell has practised law for more than 37 years and recently opened a new practice as a full-time arbitrator and mediator, the MOL said in a backgrounder. Murray became a full-time mediator and arbitrator in January and has regularly provided legal advice to major private and public sector corporations, along with public sector institutions such as universities and hospitals.


Mitchell and Murray will lead and coordinate the public consultations and provide the Minister of Labour with a final written report with recommendations.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) welcomed the announcement. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize Ontario’s outdated labour laws,” said OFL president Sid Ryan in a media release. “Over the past 20 years, there has been a massive rise in precarious employment in Ontario, as good paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low-paying and part-time jobs in expanding retail and service sectors. It is time for employment and labour laws to be updated to provide protection for an increasingly vulnerable workforce.”

Ryan said that he was looking forward to the upcoming public hearings and that the OFL “will be full participants in what we believe will be a vigorous and healthy discussion about the future of the province’s five million workers.”


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