TORONTO — The Ontario government is introducing legislation today that, if passed, would better protect, support, and attract workers to the province. These proposed new measures position Ontario as a first mover in charting the path forward as the way people work changes. The proposed changes would promote healthy work-life balance and will further enable competitiveness by banning unfair non-compete agreements that are used to restrict work opportunities, suppress salary increases and wage growth.
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, will today introduce the Working for Workers Act, 2021, which would help make Ontario the top choice for people around the world to live, work and raise a family.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we work, leaving too many people behind, struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet for their families,” said Minister McNaughton. “Our government is working for workers. To do so, we must act swiftly and decisively to put workers in the driver’s seat and begin rebalancing the scales. Today’s proposed legislation shows Ontario is ready to lead the way into the workplaces of tomorrow, and create the conditions that will make talented, innovative people want to work in our great province.”
If passed, this proposed legislation would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to make it easier for people to relax and spend quality time with their loved ones. By requiring employers with 25 employees or more to develop disconnecting from work policies, Ontario is prioritizing workers’ mental health and family time. These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.
The proposed legislation will also prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements. These types of contracts often restrict employees from taking new jobs with another business in the same field after they leave the company. The proposed changes would ban this unfair restriction to help workers in Ontario advance their careers and earn more money. This would also give the province a competitive advantage in attracting global talent. Employers would still be able to protect their intellectual property through narrower clauses.
Measures proposed earlier this month will also be part of this legislation. This includes making it easier for internationally-trained individuals to practice in regulated professions, protecting vulnerable workers by establishing a licensing framework for recruiters and temporary help agencies, ensuring washroom access for delivery workers by requiring business owners to allow them to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve, and supporting businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19.
Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers, and unions. These proposed changes complement the work that the government is already doing to improve and expand transportation, virtual care and broadband internet access, making it easier for more people to pursue remote work and make Ontario the “work from anywhere” province.
- If the amendments are passed, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada, and one of the first in North America, to ban non-compete agreements in employment.
- Ontario would also be the first jurisdiction in Canada to establish policies that help workers disconnect from their employment responsibilities.
- In September 2021, 29 per cent of people (aged 15 to 69) in Ontario who worked at least half their usual hours worked from home, the highest percentage of any province in Canada.
- In 2021, Toronto held its fourth place ranking as a top city for tech talent (Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis Tech Talent Report).
"Communitech is pleased to see Ontario level the playing field for workers, including tech workers, compared to other jurisdictions like California. Canadian founders are in a global competition for talent, so we are grateful to see Ontario setting conditions to help innovators attract and retain the best workers in North America to keep our economy growing."
- Chris Albinson
President & CEO, Communitech
"Among CCI’s member companies, access to skilled talent is the No. 1 issue right now. With digital connectivity and remote work, the labour landscape in the 21st century has changed dramatically. Measures that clearly codify worker rights, while allowing for flexibility and labour mobility, stand to benefit Ontario’s innovative businesses as they seek to attract and retain the talent they need to drive growth."
- Alanna Sokic
Manager, Government Affairs (Ontario), Council of Canadian Innovators \ Conseil Canadien des Innovateurs