Workplace legislation

Workplace Legislation

On June 1, 2017, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148) was proposed by the Ontario government with several key changes to Ontario labour laws including an increased minimum wage, two mandatory paid sick days, an extension of various personal emergency leaves, card certification for unions and several other aspects that affect nonprofit organizations as employers and employees.

This Act followed recommendations from the Changing Workplaces Review. Here is a summary of the Act from the Ontario government.

Like many nonprofits, ONN supports Bill 148 and other legislation that will help promote decent work in the sector– and for all Ontario workers. There are positive opportunities this legislation could bring to individual nonprofits and to the sector as a whole, along with the communities we serve. But providing decent work takes time and money, and this investment may be difficult for some nonprofit employers already operating in a resource-scarce environment.

Ontario government ministries must support Bill 148 implementation costs for the nonprofits they fund, starting January 1, 2018.

Ask your provincial funders and MPPs for concrete measures to cover Bill 148-related labour costs imposed on nonprofits that deliver services to communities on behalf of government. To secure a commitment before fiscal-year-end, we need to send a message now.

This is an important sector-wide issue where we can show the impact and strength of the 55,000 nonprofits and charities across Ontario. We know that most nonprofits with paid staff will be affected by some or all of Bill 148 provisions whether they get provincial dollars or not- so talk to your funders and donors about your commitment to decent work and the need for new statutory labour costs to be reflected in your funding agreements. Let’s channel our voices and advocate for our community-driven missions and the people we serve!

Use our template or create your own to share your key messages with provincial funders. You can also use this to encourage your municipal, federal, and private funders to be “decent funders.”

What can you do?

  1. Write to your MPP: list by electoral district; find your electoral district name here.
  2. Write to your provincial minister(s).
  3. Write to your other funder(s).

Don’t forget to send a copy to ONN at so we can gather sector perspectives!

Key messages for provincial funders and elected officials

The Ontario Government must align its funding practices with its role as employment standards regulator.

Government has developed mitigating solutions for other sectors affected by this legislation and we ask that the same consideration be given to the nonprofit sector and its workers.

Provincial ministries must find the money in their 2017-2018 budgets to offset the nonprofit budget pressures created through the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148). Some of these hard costs start on January 1, 2018, i.e., within the current fiscal year for which transfer payment agreements have already been signed.

ONN’s 3 asks of the Ontario government

We have asked the province to signal that:

  • Increased labour costs associated with Bill 148 will be reflected in transfer payment agreements (TPAs) for the next fiscal year (April 1, 2018) and beyond
  • Transitional assistance for 2017-2018 TPAs will be available to reflect estimated increased costs for the last quarter of the current fiscal year (Jan-Mar. 2018)
  • Routine cost-of-living increases will be incorporated in future for TPAs across ministries

Read our submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

ONN conducted a sector-wide survey following introduction of  to help us identify the impact of these legislative developments on the nonprofit sector. We will continue to collect feedback, analyze the proposed changes, sharing the voices of the sector and keeping the network informed as we go. We will also ensure we have a process in place to identify implementation challenges as they arise as these reforms go into effect.

Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act, 2017

The Facts

  • 22% of Ontarians are now employed in some form of precarious labour. In the GTA that number is 53% (Toronto Star)
  • An estimated 33% or approximately 1.6 million Ontarians earn less than $15/hr (CBC)
  • More than a quarter of Ontario workers would receive a pay hike through the proposed increase to the minimum wage. (Government of Ontario)
  • At $15 an hour, a full-time, 40-hour-a-week minimum wage job would pay $600 a week or $31,200 a year, compared to $456 a week or $23,712 at the current level of $11.40 per hour. (Macleans)
  • 55,000 organizations
  • $50 billion in economic impact; 2.6 % of Ontario’s GDP
  • 1 million paid workers
  • 5 million volunteers
  • ONN is committed to decent work and supporting the Ontario nonprofit sector to champion its responsibility as employers to create quality jobs and career paths for its 1 million workers. ONN supports legislation that creates more decent work practices like fair wages and equal pay for all Ontario workers.
  • But providing decent work takes time and money, and there is no doubt this investment will be difficult for nonprofit employers who are already operating in a resource-scarce environment. Deeper conversation around funding reform is the bigger task at hand. We have heard from various nonprofit organizations who are challenged to find additional funding to increase wages, attract the right workers and manage additional financial responsibilities to their staff (e.g. enhanced CPP payments). Nonprofit organizations can only succeed in meeting these needs if they have the support of the Ontario government and other funders. Aside from improving employment standards for all, this will require an update to grants and funding agreements to ensure they reflect the province’s commitment to eliminating the gender wage gap and supporting quality jobs in our changing economy
  • To ensure we’re making progress on decent work, we also need better labour market information and data to help the nonprofit sector plan for the long term. We currently have no data at the national or provincial level to fully understand the reality of precarious work in the nonprofit sector. We do know anecdotally from our network that many workers in the sector face precarious employment, and our research has shown nonprofit employers face serious recruitment and retention challenges. [Shaping the Future report, 2013]
  • As the world of work is changing, so are the needs of the nonprofit sector.  The Ontario nonprofit sector is a $50 billion economic driver, a sector that employs a million people, and above all, a sector that is the foundation of the social infrastructure of Ontario. The sector relies heavily on the passion of its staff and volunteers, but, given the increasingly complex regulatory and economic landscape, nonprofits must be able to compete for professional talent in the paid labour market. They will not be able to compete and recruit the talent of the future if these changes aren’t addressed with concrete solutions in the workforce and in our workplaces.
  • Workplace legislation affects us all. To address these issues head on, we need a holistic approach and engagement from funders, policy-makers, and workers in the sector who are faced with precarious employment.

In the Changing Workplaces Review report, one of the guiding principles of the commissioned report was the “decency principle” where author Harry Arthurs states that labour standards should ensure that no worker should accept or work under conditions that Canadians would not regard as ‘decent’ (p.9).

However, among the proposed legislation changes included in Bill 148 there were a few recommendations that were not addressed including:

  • The report’s recommendation (#86) that the government initiate an urgent study as to how a minimum standard of insured health benefits can be provided across workplaces, especially to those full-time and part-time employees without coverage, the self-employed, and including small employers.
  • In addition, the report recommended working with the federal government to review the private pension system and consider public programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement to assist low earning Ontarians (17). However, none of these issues were addressed in the proposed Bill 148 legislation.

Responses from the sector and beyond

  • $15 and Fairness applauds the $15 minimum wage increase and emphasizes the need to get the legislation passed. It is Possible $15/hr Fact Sheet
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) emphasizes that it is a matter of affordability. It is a challenge for small businesses to incur additional financial costs (in addition to EI, CPP, hydro etc.)
  • Canadian Labour Congress applauds the increase of the minimum wage as it will help support millions of workers who are currently earning less than that and struggle to afford the basic necessities like housing, food and transportation. However, there are some areas for improvement particularly around scheduling, accessing paid vacation and paid time off for workers experiencing domestic violence.
  • Decent Work & Health Network applauds the minimum wage and move towards opening up personal emergency leave and paid sick days. However, the network still supports seven-paid sick days due to factors such as incubation recovery time from illness goes beyond two-paid days.
  • Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC), a provincial network of faith groups working for greater social justice, highlights that the Changing Workplaces Review and recommendations should “improve productivity and ultimately lower business costs and provincial health and social assistance costs”.
  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce encourages the government to engage in further research and analysis for more evidence on the economic impact of the proposed reforms and to consider the unintended consequences to employers.
  • Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) applauds the $15 minimum wage, but stresses that this must be followed by legislation to guarantee decent work.
  • Urban Workers Project celebrates the equal pay for part-time workers doing the same job as full time workers and stronger rules for workers who are misclassified as ‘independent contractors’. However, they highlight other important items such as making sure contract workers and freelancers have protections under the law, especially in issues related to non payment.
  • Living Wage Network: 15 employers support the $15 minimum wage
  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Behind The Numbers: A $15 minimum wage in Ontario: A game changer
  • Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) open letter to Premier’s office


What the provincial parties are saying

Ontario PCs  – PC leader Patrick Brown argues that the increase is happening too quickly with little regard on the impacts on the business community and that a more in depth cost-benefit analysis is needed.

Ontario NDP – In April 2016, the NDP committed to a $15 minimum wage if elected. The NDP employment critic has indicated her party will support legislation that grants workers paid sick leave, a $15 minimum wage and easier rules for joining a union.

Green Party of Ontario – Greens leader Mike Schreiner urged the government to lower payroll taxes on small businesses and support a living wage strategy. Greens support a fair economy for workers and business


What the media are saying