Ontario Proposes Self-Help Employment Standards System

Bill 68, Open for Business Act, 2006 (pdf), has passed second reading in the Legislature.  The Bill contains amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that are intended to streamline the complaint resolution system and reduce the backlog of employment standards complaints. 

If passed, the Bill would introduce a self-help model of employment standards complaint resolution.  The proposed model would require employees to advise their employers about an employment standards dispute before a formal complaint is accepted by the Ministry of Labour and an officer is assigned to investigate.  Certain workers would be excluded from this requirement, including:  young workers, live-in personal care workers, employees with disabilities or language barriers, and employees who are afraid of their employer.  Critics of the Bill allege that the self-help model will discourage employees from filing employment standards complaints.  They point to the 46% decrease in the number of employment standards complaints accepted following the adoption of a similar system (pdf) in British Columbia.

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